What makes this particular UFO incident so puzzling is the strange physical evidence it left behind and the dependability of the only eye witness, a reputable deputy sheriff with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident started when Deputy Johnson noticed an extremely bright light coming through the side window of his patrol car. He reported that the light was much stronger than any light a motor vehicle on the road could produce.
His first thought was that it could potentially be an airplane smuggling in drugs from Canada. He surmised the plane may have crashed or was about to crash. He turned on the road to move in close and head toward the light to investigate.
The last thing he remembered was that the light came barreling toward him and reached the patrol car so fast it seemed like it happened in a mere instant. He heard glass breaking and then he went unconscious.
From the analysis of the accident, it was estimated that Deputy Johnson was unconscious for 39 minutes. When he awoke, he radioed headquarters for help and in a weak voice stated something had hit his patrol car but he did not know what. When a second deputy arrived on the scene, he immediately called an ambulance and Deputy Johnson was taken to the nearby Warren Hospital.
Deputy Johnson’s eyes were reported to be red and puffy. The medical doctor who examined Deputy Johnson said the injuries to his eyes looked like they had been inflicted by a welder’s torch. He also said Deputy Johnson was in a state of shock.
The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department investigated the Val Johnson UFO incident extensively but experts were also brought in because the physical evidence left behind was so baffling. The windshield of the patrol car was badly cracked from top to the bottom. However, the patterns in which it was broken defied normal analysis.
It did not seem to be the result of outside forces or inside forces. It was almost seemed as if there were both inside and outside forces working simultaneously to create a fracture pattern that the investigators had never seen before or could explain with ordinary techniques. They concluded that there seemed to be four separate areas of impact but could not even hazard a guess as to what caused the pattern they saw.
On the left side of the front hood of the patrol car, there was a strange one-half inch circular dent. The headlights were broken on one side on both the inside and the outside of the patrol car. However, the headlights on the other side of the patrol car were left untouched. The main antenna was inexplicably bent at a sixty degree angle starting at six inches from the base of the antenna. The antenna in the truck was also damaged.
One of the strangest things the investigators found was that the patrol car clock was behind 14 minutes and Deputy Johnson’s wristwatch was also behind the exact same amount of time! Before the incident, both the patrol car clock and Deputy Johnson’s wristwatch had been synchronized with the clock at headquarters. No logical explanation has ever been given for why the patrol car clock and the wristwatch were both affected in exactly the same way.
While there were many experts involved in analyzing the damaged patrol car and other physical evidence, one is particularly noteworthy. This was J. Allen Hynek who started the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) dedicated to UFO research. Dr. Hynek was also a tenured well-respected professor at Illinois’s Northwestern University Department of Astronomy.
He was often hired to consult with the United States Air Force on UFO sightings. As a scientist, he started this consulting work being highly skeptical of there being any truth to UFOs, but over time, he decided that the UFO events he was investigating represented something truly extraordinary.
As Dr. Hynek and his team investigated the Val Johnson UFO incident, he concluded that it was not a hoax. Further, nothing in Deputy Johnson’s statement seemed untruthful. Dr. Hynek proposed that the cracked windshield had been damaged by rocks being carried in a the wake of a very large object moving at extraordinary speeds. Further, he proposed that the antenna had been bent for the sheer velocity of the air that rushed past the patrol car that night.
The patrol car is now on permanent display at the Marshall County Historical Society Museum. It is always one of the top attractions during the annual Minnesota County Fair. When the incident occurred in 1979, there were only about 60,000 miles on the patrol car so the Marshall County officials wanted the car repaired and put back into commission.
However, Sheriff Dennis Brekke convinced them to decommission the car and put it on public display. The patrol car has achieved legendary status among those who believe in paranormal phenomenon. In fact, the Val Johnson UFO incident is so famous, there have been two documentary style television programs devoted to it, one on the History Channel and the other on the Travel Channel.
Val Johnson received much attention for the incident, so much in fact that he told the press that the incident had caused a great deal of emotional strain on himself and his family. While he did appear on the Good Morning America show on September 11, 1979, he began to withdraw from other press appearances.
However, this UFO encounter will live in the history books forever as one of the most fascinating. Still to this day, this incident serves as one of the very best cases where physical evidence was left behind by a UFO.
It should also be noted that because the Val Johnson UFO incident took place so close to Warren Minnesota, it is sometimes referred to as the Warren UFO encounter or the Warren UFO incident. Every year since the incident, Warren Minnesota has received a great many visitors wishing to see for themselves the patrol car with its peculiar damage and the area where the incident occurred.