Residents of Oakville, Washington, fell ill after mysterious blobs fell from the sky. But what were they?
It was 7 August 1994, 3am. In the sleepy town of Oakville, Washington, many of the 665 residents were tucked up in bed as rain began to fall, covering the 20-square-mile area.
For those woken up by the storm, it was nothing unusual. Due to the town’s climate, rain would fall 275 days in an average year.
Local police officer, David Lacey, was awake, patrolling the area in his car with a civilian friend when the rain started. Turning on his windshield wipers, instead of being washed away, a substance was left smeared all over the windscreen.
‘I can’t see where I’m driving,’ David told his pal, before pulling over.
After parking in a gas station and putting on a pair of latex gloves, David examined the mystery matter. Little blobs, around the size of rice grains. Later, he said they were ‘very mushy, almost like if you had jello in your hand.’
A few metres down the road, the land attached to the farmhouse of a female resident of Oakville, Sunny Barclift, was covered in the blobs.
When she and her mother Dotty Hearn, woke up in the morning once the storm had finished, they were confused by what had fallen to the ground. Thinking it was a type of hailstone, Dotty handled them, noting their ‘strange gelatinous texture’.
But that would prove to be a bad move, for a couple of hours later Dotty fell violently ill, complaining of vertigo and nausea. An hour later, Sunny found her mum sprawled on the bathroom floor, cold, drenched with sweat and pale. She’d also been violently sick and was taken to hospital.
Across town, David wasn’t faring much better. Like Dotty, he was suffering from terrible nausea, vertigo and fatigue all of a sudden. He said: ‘I got to the point where I could hardly breathe.
‘I started to put together that possibly whatever the substance was, it had made me violently sick and ill like I had never been before, to the point where it just totally shut me down.’
All over Oakville, residents began getting sick with the strange illness, which appeared to mimic a violent gastric flu. Several cats and dogs who’d come into contact with the freaky rain, including Sunny’s kitten, suddenly died.
In hospital, Dotty was diagnosed with a severe inner-ear infection. She would have to spend three days in hospital recovering and taking strong medication.
What could have caused it though? Sunny thought to herself. After all, it was odd that her mum could have been struck down so quickly by something like that.
Racking her brains, she suddenly remembered her Mum touching the blobs. So she went home, got a sample and took it to the hospital. One of their lab technicians looked at it and the results were shocking.
Contained human cells
The blobs contained human white blood cells. Could it have been the weird, gloopy, snot-like grains were once alive?
The technician sent the samples on for a further investigation. When they arrived at the Washington State Department, the microbiologist there, Mike McDowell, noted that they teemed with two forms of human digestive bacteria.
Was it possible the blobs were waste from an aeroplane toilet? But this idea was quickly quashed by the Federal Aviation Administration, who say under their regulations aircraft waste matter is dyed blue. There was no trace of dye in the sticky sample.
A private microbiologist, employed by Dotty, said he saw a type of cell present in most living creatures. He believed one of the US miltary’s bombing runs at sea had mistakenly killed a school of jellyfish, sending their blown-up bits ricocheting into the atmosphere. Then they settled in Oakville, which was 50 miles inland.
Residents didn’t believe this theory. The substance didn’t smell like it was rotting. Surely that’d be the case if it was jellyfish parts?
The same blobs also rained down five more times over a three-week period, disproving the airline waste and jellyfish speculation – and leading to another, more startling, theory for the inhabitants of Oakville.
Could the blobs have been a form of biological warfare, being tested by the US military?
It does seem convenient that the first rain fell at 3am, when most people would be safely indoors…
And many of the townspeople said that in the month prior to the rain, military aircraft had moved slowly over Oakville on most days. The US air force said that while there were practice bombing runs taking place over the nearby Pacific Ocean at this time, they weren’t responsible.
The people of Oakville aren’t convinced though.
Dotty said she’d seen black helicopters going over the area on a regular basis, that she thought the blobs had come from there.
Maurice Gobiel, a resident who’d been ill, told the presenter of Unexplained Mysteries, a 1997 TV programme exploring the story: ‘They let off things in the air all the time here.
‘There’s testing done all over the place. There are places you can’t go into.’
These days, no samples of the mysterious blobs exist, so can’t be checked against more modern technology, so unless similar blobs fall, it appears this will never be solved.
The rain of blobs might sound like something from a science fiction movie, but for Sunny, David, Dotty and the other residents of Oakville in the mid-1990s, it was all too real.