15 Year Anniversary Of Oklahoman Hit By Space Junk

Sunday, January 22nd 2012, 5:37 pm
By: News 9

Deanne Stein, News9.com

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Sunday is an interesting anniversary. It was 15 years ago that the first person ever documented was hit by space junk. That person was an Oklahoman.

While rare, it isn't uncommon for space junk to hit earth, but a person, well that's unheard of, except in the case of Lottie Williams.

"We saw this big ball of fire racing across the sky," Lottie recalls.

Lottie was walking through a park in Tulsa back on January 22, 1997, when a piece of a Delta 2 rocket hit her on the shoulder.

"I was too scared to pick it up," she said.

She said she figured it was a shooting star, until the government confirmed it was likely part of the rocket. The small piece of metal weighed about the same as an empty soda can. But this astronomical event continues to weigh on her. Maybe because she is in a league of her own, the first and only documented person to be hit by space junk.

"I used to feel weird about it, but I stopped having those feelings because it was something that just happened," she said.

Lottie still keeps a piece of the rocket under lock and key, but hopes this close encounter will be of the first and only time in her life.

The first space junk known to crash to earth happened in 1979. It landed in Western Australia. Nobody was hit.

At least two more satellites have crashed since, one last September and the other just last weekend. Both ended up in the Pacific Ocean.

9/22/2011 Related Story: Oklahoma Woman Struck By Space Debris Keeps Eye On Satellite

Watch CBS Sunday Morning's Almanac featuring Lottie Williams!