1988 Eastlake Case Revisited Uploaded with permission of Christopher Evans of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on an article entitle "Space Case - The Night The Coast Guard Got Buzzed," dated July 12, 1988. They keep it in the "Classics File" at the Coast Guard's 9th District Head- quarters downtown: a single-page incident report issued by the Fairport Har- bor station on the night of March 4, 1988. The subject: Unidentified Flying Objects. "None of those guys are around anymore and I wasn't there," says Chief Quar- termaster Leo Deon of the Search and Rescue Data Section. "They saw something, but who knows what." Sgt. Greg Reid was the executive officer at the Fairport station before he re- tired and joined the Lake County Sheriff's Department. "I believe my guys," he says. "They were definitly sure of what they saw." Sheila Baker sits in her kitchen, sunlight streaming through the windows, a black, prune-faced Shar-Pei snoring on the floor. "I'm a typical Jewish mother with three kids," she says. "I go to temple. I believe in God." She fingers her ponytail. Then leans forward. "I know," she says. "I saw it." Friday, March 4, 1988, started cold and got colder. There were light snow flurries throughout the day, but by the time the sun set at 6:21 the clouds had broken up and the night sky was clear and star-studded. Sheila Baker and her husband, Henry, drove north along Ohio 91 into Eastlake and then turned east on Lake Shore Boulevard. They had taken the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner and were almost home. As they neared the lake, they saw the blink of red warning lights on the two smokestacks that towered over the CEI plant. Sheila liked the lights, the way they rose 500, 600 feet straight up those ce- ment chimneys like the fins on a rocket ship. But tonight they looked differ- ent. The kids noticed it, too. At first Sheila thought some of the lights had burned out. But as they drove closer she could make out a shape. Some- thing in the air. Out over the lake. Motionless. "There's something out there," she said to Henry. "See, over by the stacks." Henry couldn't see anything. "You're pregnant," he said. "You're probably hallucinating." Sheila was thinking it could be the Goodyear blimp. It kind of looked like a football. but what would the Goodyear blimp be doing out on a night like this? "Go down to the beach," she told Henry. "I wanna take a look." Instead of arguing, Henry passed their house on Hiawatha and drove down the hill to the beach. He parked at the base of a wide ridge that climbed some 30 feet in front of them, dirt and chunks of concrete that acted as a break- wall. A well-torn path led around it to a small, sandy beach that curled into a cor- ner at the feet of the two smokestacks. Sheila got out of the car. The moon was bright and full, and the ice on the lake looked eerie. Sheila could hear it cracking. Loud. Like claps of thunder. In between the claps, nothing. A dead calm. Not even a dog barking. Everybody around here had a dog and one of them was always barking. "That's weird," Sheila thought, reaching the beach, the night sky bursting above her, limitless, going up and up and up, and there it was. The Good- year blimp times 10. But without the cabin underneath it. This thing was slick. A football the size of a football field. Gunmetal gray. Blinding white light poured out of both ends, but the thing itslef made no noise, the ice beneath it grinding and exploding like a string of M-80s. Sheila figured it was about a quarter-mile above her, just off shore. It rocked back and forth like a teeter-totter. She knew what it was. She read the Weekly Worked News. She saw "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." but she didn't believe it. It couldn't be real, and yet there it was, moving now, one end swinging ponderously toward shore, dipping down, closer and closer toward her. Sheila started running and she ran right into Henry, who swore and started running, too. They beat it back to the car like a couple of hicks in a Mar- tian move. Henry hit the gas. Sheila locked the doors and told the kids to get down. "You don't think they're going to come and get us?" Sheila asked. Henry was oblivious. "Wow," he said. "This is great. I'm gonna get the binoculars." Three minutes later, Sheila had hustled the kids out of the car and into the back bedroom. She opened the closet door. "Get in there," she said and shut the door before they could argue. She pulled down all the window blinds, turned off the lights and locked the bed- room door. Then she walked into the living room. Henry was standing by the window that faced the lake. The object had moved out over the ice. It seemed to be descending. Red and blue lights were now flashing sequentially along its lower edge. Sheila picked up the phone and called the Eastlake police. "I want to report a UFO," she told the cop who answered. He seemed insulted. "There's something out there," she said. I'm watching it now." He told her to call Lost Nation Airport in Willoughby. Probably an adver- tising plane, a helicopter. Sheila called the airport. The guy in the tow- er told her they had nothing taking off or landing. She asked if there were any weird blips on his radar screen. He said no. He figured maybe it was the planets, Venus and Jupiter. She should call NASA. All the time Sheila was watching it. It was about five miles out now, still descending, red and blue lights flashing as if it was going to crash. She called the cops back. They told her unusual activity over the lake was the responsibility of the Coast Guard. Sheila called Fairport Harbor. They suggested Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. "Everybody thinks I'm nuts," she told Henry. Suddenly a series of bright triangular yellow lights shot out of the center of the object. These triangles, there were five or six of them, it was hard to count they moved so quickly, looked about the size of a single-seat Cessna. They hovered point-up around the object. Then darted north, then east, head- ing inland toward the Perry nuclear power plant. Sheila had never seen any- thing move that fast. Zero to warp-speed in less than a nanosecond. Without making a sound. She called the Coast Guard again. This time they said they were sending a crew by the house. Sheila let her kids out of the closet, but made them stay in the bedroom with the door locked. Mobile Unit 2 was a 1984 blue Chevy Suburban and the two guys in it were gung- ho. Seaman James Powers and Petty Officer John Knaub said they could see the lights from Fairport Harbor. They figured they were flares. Fishermen trapped out on the ice, that kind of thing. They were towing a 22-foot Boston Whaler just in case. Sheila and Henry pointed to the object they now thought of as the mother ship. A co of the triangles were zipping around it. Powers and Knaub didn't say a word. Instead of driving onto the beach, they four-wheeled the Chevy up the ridge. The ice was going nuts, rippling and rumbling and roaring. Sheila and Henry got out. The windows were down and they could hear Knaub and Powers talking to the base. "Be advised the object appears to be landing on the lake," they said. "Be advised there are other objects moving in around it. Be advised these smaller objexts are going at high rates of speed. There are no engine noises and they are very, very low. Be advised these are not planets." All of a sudden one of the triangles zoomed toward the Chevy, low, just above the ice, a blur of light blistering straight at them. Knaub quickly rolled the van back down the ridge. The triangle veered east, then went straight up and came down beside the mother ship. Sheila told Knaub to turn his lights off. "Why attract attention" she asked. Fifteen miles to the southeast, not too far from the Perry plant, Cindy Hale stepped outside to walk her dog. She noticed a triangular light hovering above her. The dog began to whine and cower. Cindy took it back inside. But she came out again. The triangle flashed a sequence of multicolored lights and Cindy responded by flicking her Bic. This went on for about 30 minutes, then the triangle accelerated and was gone. It didn't make a sound. Tim Keck was observing the stars through his telescope when a bright triangular object caught his eye. Luckily, Time had his camera with him. It wasn't a great camera. In fact, it was a little plastic number he had gotten free from Burger King. But it worked, and he took a picture of the triangle before it disappeared silently over the horizon. Back at the lake, the mother ship was almost on the ice. For an hour, Henry had stood on the ridge and listened as Powers and Knaub communicated with their base. They said things like, "You should be advised that the object is now shining lights all over th lake and it's turning different colors." The ice thundered. Powers and Knaub had to yell to be heard. Henry thought the big ship was in trouble. So did Sheila. She had gone back to the house. The kids were still locked in the bedroom and she watched from the window. Suddenly the triangles were back. They shot one by one into the side of the mother ship as it seemed to set down on the howling ice. It flashed a sequence of red, blue and yellow lights. Sheila thought they looked beautiful. Then the white light that poured from the front of the object turned red and the triangles reappeared, hovering over it. The ice boomed, louder and louder, and then suddenly it stopped. The lights disap- peared. So did the triangles. Now there was nothing. Darkness and silence. Powers and Knaub drove off white-faced. Sheila and Henry stood watch through the night. In the morning all that remained were scattered chunks of broken ice. But that evening, the triangles returned. Sheila called the Coast Guard. This time they sent three people. But they arrived too late and the triangles were gone. To reassure the Bakers, they called Lost Nation Airport and talked to Elizabeth Mele in the control tower who told them the two bright lights in the sky were Venus and Jupiter, and the flashing lights were gases in the atmosphere. That was Saturday. On Monday, The Plain Dealer ran a short item headlined "Cozying of Jupiter, Venus light up sky." The Lake County News-Herald ran a similar version with the caption "Sky-gazers mistake planets for UFOs." Sheila called Fairport Harbor. Powers and Knaub weren't there. She left a message. They didn't call back. She called again and again and again. Nothing. Four years later, she's still confused. "The government flat-out denies it happened and I was standing there with two government employees watching it and they saw it and then they disappear." Chief Leo Deon said the Coast Guard had no official policy in regard to UFOs, and since there were no more sightings that was the end of it. All personnel assigned to Fairport Harbor in 1988 have been rotated out. Deon said he couldn't locate Powers, who had left the service, or Knaub through personnel records, because those records have been archived in Washington. "It was big around the station for a while," says retired executive officer Greg Reid. "Then it just fizzled out." Sheila Baker frowns and points a finger. "You start to worry," she says. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This case was originally investigated by Rick Dell'Aquila and Dale Wedge who were members of MUFON in 1988. The case has been getting some attention after all this time and we shall report on any new developments. The next portion of the upload will be the "official" Coast Guard document as it appeared when we received it from the Coast Guard.