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Location: Eptingen (Switzerland)
Switzerland's most famous Phantom Hitch-Hiker is the 'White Lady of the Belchentunnel' - an older woman, dressed all in white, who haunts the hard shoulder of the motorway 'N2' near the entrance of a long road tunnel known as the Belchentunnel.
When motorists stop to offer the woman a lift (which, it seems, is forbidden in Switzerland), she accepts but only wishes to travel to the other side of the tunnel. During the short journey she is said to exclaim that something terrible will happen. The motorist, turning to question her as to what she means by this, finds that she has vanished.
Enquiries made to police have provided confirmation that reports of this nature were received from time to time, and that a number of fatal accidents had occurred in the tunnel, none of which could be connected with the ghost.
One of the latest encounters took place on 26 September 1983, when two women gave the ghost a lift through the tunnel. The woman had appeared pale and ill. When asked the woman confirmed that she was feeling unwell and was grateful for the lift. Again, during the journey, in response to one of the women's inquiry as to whether she was feeling any better, the woman replied that she wasn't, and that something awful would happen. The front passenger turned to face the woman, but found she had vanished from the back seat. With only two doors, there was no way she could have got out in the conventional manner. In a state of some shock, the women stopped at the earliest opportunity to search the car and call the police.
Source(s): From an account sent to David Thomas by Swiss researcher Andreas Trottmann, and based on details given in a locally published booklet (unidentified) on legends and traditions.
Location: Resurrection Cemetery, Archer Avenue, Justice, Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Date/Time: various. MAP
'Resurrection Mary' (after the cemetery where she is reputedly buried, and which is her customary destination) is arguably the most famous Phantom Hitch-Hiker tale of all (at least until Blue Bell Hill arose to contend its status).
Here, in the city's south side, in the district of Justice - so the story goes - a girl was killed in a motor accident on Archer Avenue while being driven home from the O. Henry Ballroom (since renamed the Willowbrook Ballroom).
One version has Mary arguing with her boyfriend, before being killed as she was trying to hitch a lift home. Having died with the argument foremost in her mind, she is said to repeat her fateful attempts at hitching on the anniversary of her death.
The incident is rumoured to have occurred some time in the 1930s, but the girl, described as an 18-year-old blonde, blue-eyed Polish American, standing about five feet seven, and dressed in a white ballroom gown, has evidently been unable to come to terms with her demise, since she has reportedly been seen a number of times over the years (one source claims she has made more frequent appearances in recent years, since the cemetery was renovated in the mid 1970s).
Indeed, Mary has become so popular that an organized coach tour of Chicago's best haunts naturally includes Resurrection Cemetery at 7200 South Archer Avenue in its itinerary.
Mary's favoured modus operandi, it seems, is to seek lifts from lone male drivers (or to force them on the driver by jumping into the vehicle uninvited). The driver would then be guided to the gates of the cemetery instead of the 'home' the motorist expects to take her, where she would vanish.
Mary’s speech has sometimes been described as vague, as if confused; in one case, she was initially suspected as having had 'one too many' to drink.
One variation on the theme involves Mary hitching a lift from a lone male who takes her home, and arranges to meet her for a date the following weekend. When the man turns up for the date, he learns that his would-be companion has been dead for some time. Whichever version is preferred, the consistent feature is that the motorist learns that his passenger is a ghost.
Resurrection Mary has her share of anonymous witnesses, but she has also been seen by persons willing to put their name to their story. Gerry Palus met a young blonde at a dance, to whom he offered a lift home at the end of the evening. She accepted, and directed him down Archer Avenue towards Resurrection Cemetery, opposite which she asked him to stop the car. She told him that she had to cross the street there, and that he could not follow. Before he could respond, she was out of the car, and ran towards the cemetery gates, vanishing before she reached them.
At other times, she has either foregone the formality of alighting in the conventional manner by passing right through the door, or has managed to enter the cemetery itself before disappearing (whether the gates are open or locked, of course).
Palus apparently then understood why the girl had been so cold to the touch when he was dancing with her...
More convincing is the experience of Sergeant Pat Homer, who was directed to the gates of Resurrection Cemetery in August 1976 to investigate a report of a girl who seemed to be locked inside the cemetery. A passing motorist had seen a woman dressed in white standing inside the locked cemetery gates, holding on to the bars. Thinking she might be a mourner who had inadvertently been locked inside, he contacted the police.
Sergeant Homer arrived at 10.30 p.m., but found no sign of anyone in the cemetery. He shone his spotlight through the gates, and called out, but there was no response. What he did find were that two bars of the left-hand gate, made of bronze, were bent apart. Investigating further, he found strange indentations in these bars, which resembled hand prints. Weeks of research apparently convinced the officer that they could not have been hoaxed, and that there was no reasonable explanation other than that they were conceivably made by a ghost.
Of special interest is the experience, in 1978, of Shawn and Geri Lape. The couple were driving past Resurrection Cemetery when a girl dressed in white ran out in front of their car.
"We are lifelong residents of Chicago and we know the legend of Resurrection Mary," said Shawn. "But no-one expects to hit her late one night coming home from their mother-in-law's. I didn't feel anything. There was no bump, no jar. Nothing. It wasn't like we hit a human."
The girl managed to complete her journey to the other side of the road, running towards the cemetery fence before which she vanished.
Source(s): This account of Resurrection Mary derived from various sources: John Fairley & Simon Welfare, op.cit., pp.101-104, pp.126-128 (see 9 above); Beth Scott & Michael Norman, op.cit., pp.1-4; Richard Winer & Nancy Osborn, Haunted Houses (Bantam Books, 1979), pp.75-76; Mysteries of the Unexplained (The Reader's Digest Association, 1982), pp.180-181; 'Tales of phantom hitch-hikers', by Paul Screeton, The Mail (Hartlepool), 31 October 1980, p.27; 'The Party Girl of Resurrection Cemetery', Charles Berlitz's World of Strange Phenomena, Vol.3: The Odd And The Awesome (Sphere, 1991).
Location: Jenin to Dotan road (Israel)
Date/Time: [not specified].
A resident of the Arab town of Jenin was driving one evening towards Dotan and picked up a hitch-hiker, who who sat in the passenger seat beside him. After a while he noticed his companion's face had transformed into that of a one-eyed dog. Stopping the car, he ran away from it and fainted.
Debate in Jenin and the neighbouring towns interpreted the figure variously as a demon, or 'the blind liar' - an evil figure that is to spread evil abroad before the coming of the Messiah.
Source(s): Daily Maariv (Israel) 14 October 1996; 'Chillers on the road' (Fortean Times, issue uncertain).
Location: Greifnau (Germany))
Date/Time: [not specified]. 12.00 a.m.
A hitch-hiking phantom caused panic in the town of Greifnau, on the German-Austrian border in 1975.
It began when a 43-year-old businessman told a local newspaper that he had been stopped at midnight by what he thought was a hitch-hiker. "She was a weird-looking old woman, dressed in black," he said. "She waved at me. So I stopped the car and she asked for a lift."
The woman didn't answer any of his questions, but only murmured that something evil would happen. When he looked again, the woman had vanished. He was so shocked he almost crashed into another car.
Others were said to have had similar experiences. But Police Captain Siegfried Eismann was dismissive of the ghostly stories, and threatened prosecution for motorists who spread panic by claiming they had seen a ghost.
According to the local newspaper, an amateur photographer claimed to have snapped a photograph of the woman. The enlargement apparently shows a shadowy, bent figure.
Source(s): 'Thumbs down to ghostly hiker', by George Edwards, News of the World, Sunday 13 April 1975, p.5.
Location: Quatre Canaux Bridge, Palavas-les-Flots, Montpellier (France)
Date/Time: 20 May 1981. 12.00 a.m. MAP
The four occupants of a red two-door Renault 5 rushed into the police station at Montpellier to report a terrifying incident that had befallen them around midnight at Quatre Canaux Bridge, just outside the seaside resort of Palavas-les-Flots, near Montpellier.
On hearing their story, Inspector Lopez initially advised them that if they were attempting a hoax, they still had time to come clean and avoid punitive action. But they stuck to their story, and he apparently later admitted to researchers that their panic was genuine, prompting a search of the area (without result) and the recording of individual statements about the incident - which all matched.
The four [identified by first name only - unfortunately, not a great sign] claimed that they had stopped to give a mature woman in a white mackintosh and headscarf a lift at the bridge. Room was made in the back of the car, between two girls, and they set off.
Some 200 metres before Pont Vert the woman suddenly shouted out 'Mind the bend. You are risking your life!' The driver obediently slowed down and they negotiated the bend there safely. As soon they did so, they all realized that the woman in white had vanished.
Source(s): Michael Goss, The Evidence for Phantom Hitch-Hikers (The Aquarian Press, 1984), pp.24-25; Tony Allan, Tales of Real Haunting (Usborne Publishing Ltd, 1997), Chapter: Haunted Highways, p.53.
Location: Peshawar (Pakistan)
Date/Time: various. MAP
In this case, an attractive girl in white has featured in a number of incidents which have often, it seems, resulted in the death of the witness.
Newly appointed police motorcyclist Mahmood Ali reportedly stopped to pick up a pretty girl who was thumbing a lift from the roadside. Straddling the pillion seat, the girl asked to be taken the few miles down the mountain road to a village near Peshawar. When he arrived in the village centre, however, he found that the girl had disappeared. He retraced his journey all the way back to where he had picked up the girl, but failed to find her.
His report to his superiors, contrary to his fears, was treated seriously, for in the police files were three reported encounters (spread over six months) with the ghost Hitch-Hiker on the mountain road. By all accounts, Officer Ali seems to have been fortunate to survive his encounter. The three previous witnesses, all young civilian motorcyclists, had subsequently died, in the same manner - in a collision with a truck while searching for the girl.
Inquiries in the local village led to identification of a 20-year-old girl who had been killed by a truck while wandering about the road looking for her lover. The villagers maintained she was still searching for him, and exacting revenge on the men she did not know. Officer Ali was said to have survived because he was a handsome young man not unlike the girl's lover.
Curious to find out what the dead girl had looked like, Ali is said to have sought out the girl's parents, at whose house he recognized her from a photograph on the wall. "The likeness was incredible," he said.
The girl's spirit, according to a village soothsayer, was at last satisfied, and would not again be seen on the mountain road.
Source(s): 'Was that a ghost sitting on the speed cop's pillion seat?', by Prakash Chandra, New Delhi, Sunday Express, 2 December 1979, p.13; Michael Goss, The Evidence for Phantom Hitch-Hikers (The Aquarian Press, 1984), p.12 & p.121.
Location: San Antonio, Texas (USA)
Date/Time: 1984. MAP
Late one evening in 1984, Paula Williams was driving home from work along her usual route when a young girl standing alone on the side of the road caught her attention. Stopping for her, Paula offered the girl a lift, which she acknowledged with a nod before getting in the car (in the passenger seat).
Engaging the seat-belt, Paula asked the girl her name, to which she replied “Cindy Sue”. She indicated the direction where she lived by pointing ahead through the windscreen. The girl was extremely quiet, and seemed to stare through Paula, which unnerved her. Shortly, as they passed over some railroad tracks, the girl's eyes met the sign and locked.
At her house, the girl remained in the car while Paula, by now thinking she might have been having some problems at home, suggested she go first and talk to her parents. A woman answered the door, and Paula proceeded to tell that her daughter Cindy Sue was waiting in the car. The woman's reaction took Paula aback. Angrily, she threatened to call the police if Paula did not get off her property immediately. Then she said something strange: "Let Cindy Sue rest in peace."
Puzzled, Paula walked back to the car. It was unoccupied. The door was still locked, and the seat-belt remained fastened across the seat, but there was no sign of the girl.
Then it struck her that the street names back near the railroad track had all belonged to children. Checking, she found that one was called 'Cindy Sue Drive'.
It is recalled by Texas Ranger Roy Williams that ten children were killed on the level crossing along the Mission Road in the south part of San Antonio in the 1940s when their school bus had stalled and been hit by a train.
An interesting adjunct to this story is the reputation the railroad crossing has to this day for vehicles in trouble to be pushed safely out of danger by invisible hands, said to be the dead children anxious to avoid a similar accident to the one that claimed their own lives.
While sceptics evoke optical illusions or localized magnetic fields to explain how it is vehicles appear to travel from a standstill up a slight gradient and across the tracks, the legend is easily tested by those possessing the inclination and a bag of powder. Sprinkled over the bumper and boot, a number of motorists have alighted their vehicles to find the prints of tiny hands in the powder, reinforcing the idea that the place is protected by guardian spirits.
While the sudden termination of her young life perhaps provides an explanation for Cindy Sue's continued appearances, there is, however, one small problem with the story: the inferred discrepancy in the age of Cindy Sue's mother, who would surely have been an old woman in 1984, more likely to have been mistaken for the grandmother than the mother of a young girl?
Source(s): Taken from 'Railroad Spirits' (produced by Jacqueline Radles), for the television series Mysteries, Magic and Miracles, presented by Patrick MacNee.
Location: Sassari (Sicily (Sardinia?))
Date/Time: [not specified]. MAP
In a 'textbook' Phantom Hitch-Hiker case from Sicily in 1973 - which makes it highly suspect as a true account - comes the experience of Luigi Torres:
Luigi was riding his motorcycle home to Sassari one night when he stopped to give a lift to a girl. She seemed 'strangely cold' so he loaned her his overcoat. At her house, he told her he would call for his coat the next day. Predictably, when he did so, a woman answered his request with the news that her daughter had died three years before. Disbelieving, Luigi was directed to the grave of the 19-year-old [named in the source account], where he not only found a picture of the girl he had picked up on the gravestone, but, on the ground, his overcoat. Luigi was said to be under a doctor's care after the shocking revelation.
[Note: I challenge anyone to prove that Luigi Torres - never mind the ghost - actually existed!]
Source(s): 'Luigi takes a ghostly ride', by Paul House (Rome, Saturday), Sunday People, 11 March 1973, p.14.
Location: N9 Uniondale to Willowmore road, 200 miles east of Cape Town (S. Africa)
Date/Time: various. MAP
On Good Friday in 1980, 20-year-old André Coetzee was riding his motorcycle along the N9 desert road past Uniondale, some 200 miles east of Cape Town, in search of a friend travelling from Johannesburg, whom he feared might run out of petrol in the Karoo desert, when all of a sudden he felt himself grasped around the his waist, as if he had acquired a pillion passenger. Looking down, he was alarmed to actually see the hands, and he then realized he had become subject of the attention of the ghost woman of Uniondale.
"Very, very scared," he felt an urge to get away from the area as fast as possible, and started to accelerate along the road. At around 150-160 kph, he suddenly felt three hard wraps on his crash helmet, and then 'she' disappeared, and the witness was left to bring his machine to a stop and find himself alone on the road.
Coetzee's experience stands as the latest confirmed report of a ghostly encounter on the Uniondale to Willowmore road since a young woman died in a road accident near here on Good Friday - 12 April - in 1968. Since then her ghost is said to wait at the Barandas turn-off on cold, wet nights for a lift.
Reports describing a blonde female hitch-hiker who mysteriously disappears from the pillion seats of other motorcycles have arisen in the years since the accident. An intriguing encounter occurred in May 1976 when Anton Le Grange from Oudtshoorn met a female hitch-hiker some 13 kilometres from Uniondale. It was dark; the time was 7.15 p.m. The rain and coldness prompted him to offer a lift to the woman although she did not appear to be actually seeking a lift. She was dressed in dark trousers and jacket. Her hair, contrary to that depicted in rumour, was dark, and her face pale.
The girl accepted the offer of a lift, giving the address to which she wished to be taken. It was shortly after pulling away that Le Grange thought to question the girl about the destination address, recalling that there was no such street in Oudtshoorn, his own destination. On looking over his shoulder, he found she had disappeared.
The incident was duly reported to Uniondale police. The duty officer at the time, PC Snowy Potgieter, recalled that Le Grange had been upset but sober, and agreed to drive out to the scene of the incident. On the way out there, the police officer (following in his own vehicle) witnessed the right rear door of Le Grange's car open and close by itself. Le Grange reported that he heard a 'spine-chilling' laugh inside his car. (A slightly different version states that Le Grange was driving away from the police station when he heard a horrible scream inside his vehicle, in response to which he immediately turned back. Officer Potgieter then accompanied the witness on the way back to the scene of the incident, during which the door-opening event occurred.)
Evidently, Officer Potgieter was of the opinion that he had witnessed a genuine paranormal occurrence. Le Grange believed the screaming to be the death cries of this woman, whom he later discovered was the victim of a 1968 road accident.
Le Grange's description of the girl revived some unsettling memories for Officer Potgieter. He confronted a colleague, former police sergeant Pat McDonald, with the memory of a fatal accident of some years before. McDonald had been the first officer at the scene, where he found a Volkswagen Beetle off the road, and a girl lying on her back, her head propped against the embankment. The girl had died of head injuries.
After the Le Grange encounter had been featured in the newspapers a lieutenant in the South African Air Force came forward stating that the incidents involved Mary Ross [named changed], his 22-year-old fianceé, who had been killed early in the morning of 12 April 1968 when their car had been blown off an embankment of the desert road near Uniondale by a freak gust of wind. A photograph of her, obtained from her mother by local journalist Janie Meyer, was later shown to Anton Le Grange, it, it is said, bearing a close resemblance to the Hitch-Hiker. Remarkably, a police sergeant who attended the 1968 crash (who can only be Pat McDonald) apparently recalled that the victim to have been wearing dark green slacks and a navy-blue duffle coat (an impressive feat of recollection, if it is to be accepted).
Another tantalizing account concerns South African Army corporal Dawie van Jaarsveld who encountered the girl Hitch-Hiker two years later, at Easter, in 1978. The conditions were wet and being around 9.35 p.m., the Barandas to Willowmore Road was dark. As in the Coetzee incident, Mr van Jaarsveld was riding a motorcycle; his destination was Louterwater, some 115 miles away, where he was to spend the holiday with his girlfriend.
As he approached the isolated intersection, he saw a figure ahead on the roadside. He was not intending to stop, but as he made a turn to the right, the girl raised her arms as if to say 'Oh no, aren't you going to stop?' Reconsidering, he stopped and offered her a lift, providing her with the spare crash helmet and an earpiece to listen to some music during the journey. The witness remembers telling the girl before they left to hold tight around his waist so that he could feel if anything should go wrong.
"After a few...say a kilometre or two, the bike had a twitch. I thought she fell off. A lot of things went through my mind. I turned around; I wanted to see if I still had somebody with me. There was nobody. I turned around; I went back with the motorcycle, [and I] looked to see if there was anybody lying in the road."
He backtracked, swerving his motorcycle across the road so that the beams of his headlight might illuminate the girl, but all that he discovered was a repeat performance of the bumping sound. This, he discovered, was caused by the spare helmet which was now attached to the luggage rack. "Then I got a fright...I saw the helmet. It was back on [the bike]; the earphone was just lying there (which was later found to be unusable, the adaptor jack somehow having been melted). And I just had to move off, because I realized then I didn't actually pick someone up."
Badly shaken, van Jaarsveld made straight for Uniondale, where he found the Petros café, which he entered in such a state that the proprietress immediately concluded that he had met the Phantom Hitch-Hiker.
Mr van Jaarsveld’s description of the girl apparently matched that given by others: not very tall, a girl with short dark (brunette) hair, wearing slacks and a jersey. He had no impression before her disappearance that she might have been a spirit, though it did feel strange.
One version states that van Jaarsveld also later identified his passenger from a photograph of a road accident victim - the very same Mary Ross.
One of theories that attempts to explain why the spirit of Mary Ross should not have found rest is that she is said to have been fast asleep at the time of the accident, and was therefore unable to prepare herself for death. Janie Meyers, the journalist who approached the girl's mother with the story following Anton Le Grange's encounter, and who has researched the story for over 20 years, believes that Mary, who was in the process of finalizing plans for her wedding (the couple's journey on the night of the accident had been with the intention of discussing their plans with Mary's parents) will carry on until she manages to reach her destination - an endeavour with which Meyer is prepared to help, having already made an number of anniversary visits in the hope of meeting the Phantom Hitch-Hiker.
Source(s): This account of the Uniondale case derived from various sources: Michael Goss, op.cit., pp.121-128; Randles, op.cit., pp.115-124; LWT's Strange But True? (TV series, presented by Michael Aspel), 1995; Janet & Colin Bord, Modern Mysteries of the World: Strange Events of the Twentieth Century (Grafton, 1989), pp.87-89.
Location: Egypt Bottom, Ohio (USA)
In July 0f 2002, 'Debbie' wrote to www.ghostvillage.com to report an eerie encounter she and her husband had had as they drove home after a visit to the reputedly haunted cemeteries of Egypt Bottom, Ohio.
They walked around one, and then drove on to another, which was fenced off. They had a 4x4, so Debbie's husband proposed that they should go ahead. Debbie sat looking up at the hill, feeling uneasy, and decided it wouldn't be a good idea.
Debbie said: "Before getting too far back up onto state Route 40 I turned to my husband to say something and there were claw marks on our side window in the dew and the very faint words "help me" under the marks. We tried wiping them off but they wouldn't rub off, so we then decided to just go home and started back up the road when something grabbed my husband from behind his seat and was pulling on him. He stopped the vehicle, jumped out, and told whatever it was that they were not going to our home and to just get out and stay out - we actually had to do this three times before things in the vehicle felt right enough to go home. I have mentioned going back there but he wants nothing more to do with it after dark."
Location: State Route 895 Pocahontas Parkway, eastern Henrico County, Virginia (USA)
Date/Time: July 2002. Various - c. 12.00 a.m. - 3 a.m.
15 July 2002. It was close to midnight when the truck approached the toll booths on the newly opened Pocahontas Parkway. As he slowed, the driver's attention was drawn by the sight of three flickering points of light on a high bluff off to his left.
A report filed later by the toll taker stated: "The truck driver came through and said he seen [three] Indians in the middle of the highway lined up by the woods, each of them holding a torch." The figures, described as 'breech-clothed warriors', were clearly illuminated against the dark tree line by their flaming torches.
Tearing his gaze back to the road, the driver saw two more torch-bearing Indians standing in the path of his truck. He sounded the truck's horn to warn them. When he pulled up at the booth, he leaned out to report his sighting to the female toll officer, thinking them to have been local Indians protesting against the path of the road, perhaps overrunning the site of a former settlement or sacred site.
However, the toll taker had seen and heard too many strange things since the road opened. At the end of her shift, she filed a report, and State police were called in to investigate at the scene. Predictably, they found nothing.
State troopers working the night shift along the Route 895 claim to have responded to dozens of similar calls. Two of these were documented in State Police incident records.
The first had been on 1 July, at 3:11 a.m. Two days later, at 1:44 a.m., plaza workers reported seeing a figure running back and forth around the loading dock. In both cases, the figures were described as having fully formed but 'cloudy' torsos, legs and arms, but only a vague outline of a head. Again, officers investigating found nothing.
In addition to the visual apparitions, there have also been reports of ghostly sounds - Indian drums, chants, shouts and cries - which usually are heard after midnight.Some have attributed the sounds to a reputed illegal dog kennel, or local wildlife. Officers disagree. "I know what a bunch of hunting dogs sound like, and it doesn't sound anything like that," one trooper said.
The troopers' stories were confirmed by Corinne Geller, a state police spokeswoman, who had visited the toll plaza late one night. "Three separate times during our watch," she said, "I heard high-pitched howls and screams. Not the kind of screams of a person in trouble, but whooping. There were at least a dozen to 15. I would say every hair on my body was standing up when we heard those noises."
An engineering subcontractor who worked nights on the bridge construction also reported having seen and Indian: "It was me and two or three other guys and we could see a horse and there was an Indian sitting on it," the engineer said. "It was right at the bottom of the bridge." Horses are forbidden on an interstate, so the men made towards the rider, but the Indian and horse vanished.
Deanna Beacham of the Nansemond Tribe dismissed ideas that the figures were protestors, stating that any such activity would harm chances that the federal government would officially recognise Virginia's Indian tribes.
"We are anxiously awaiting our federal recognition," she said, speculating that any such activity would harm chances that the U.S. government would officially recognize Virginia's Indian tribes. As for the possibility of Indian spirits wandering the area, Deanna was non-commital, but said: "We're still here as place names. We became rivers and streets and roads and communities. Why shouldn't people see physical manifestations of that?"
Archaeological evidence points to Indian habitation in the Parkway area from the 1600s as far back as 3500 B.C. A dig at the site prior to the construction of the bridge yielded numerous Indian artifacts. According to Edward Haile, an area historian, the Pocahontas Parkway location as home to Indians for a long time. "There are two [villages] that are dead hits - right there."
Source(s): 'Inexplicable Phenomena', by
Location: Indian Trail (Highway 403?), Ancaster, Wentworth County, Ontario (Canada)
Date/Time: c. 1987 (August) & 1996 (c.1.30 a.m.). MAP
In the early hours of one morning, at around 2.30 a.m., Amy Cripps received a phone call from her brother. No-one calls at that time for an idle chat. It was soon obvious to her that he was very upset over something. Amy tried to calm him down and get him say what was bothering him, but, as a sceptical person, the nature of what had just happened to him made it difficult for him to tell his story. Finally, though, he began. He told his sister because she was the only one he could trust to believe him and not think him crazy.
Amy's brother worked as a manager of a movie theatre in a large city, about 40 minutes away, finishing after midnight most nights. On this particular night, he got off at around 1.30 a.m. On his way home, he decided to get off the main highway and take the less travelled country roads into his home town, enjoying the drive in his new car.
About 150 yards from his last turn towards home, there is a small cemetery called Stenabaugh Cemetery, which lies close to the road. As he approached the cemetery, Amy's brother caught something moving from the corner of his eye to his right, across the passenger seat. Turning to get a better view, expecting to find it was nothing, he was shocked to see a figure of a man jump out from the cemetery and hit the side of his car. He clearly saw an old man staring at him through the passenger side window, as if he was holding onto the door. Amy's brother swerved, almost crashing his car into the cemetery. Checking over his back seat, there was no-one there.
Amy said: "Obviously shaken, my brother tried to collect himself, and sped off towards home. As soon as he walked through his door, he phoned me. I never in my life thought I would hear my brother speak of such things, being the skeptic that he is. I'll never forget the fear in his voice as he spoke to me that night. He told the rest of my family the next day, and they all just laughed at him. He never spoke of it again, but I know that it is still in his mind, as he has never taken those back roads at night again."
Amy added that a friend of hers by the name of Paul (then around 18 years of age) used to live a short distance away from Stenabaugh Cemetery, and years before Amy's brother's own experience, had told her that people of the area were aware of a male spirit that wandered the cemetery at night, trying to cause people to crash their vehicles. Amy's friend too was sceptical until he ran into the figure one night. The man had suddenly appeared in the middle of the road, caused him to swerve and crash his car into a nearby field. "Fortunately," said Amy, "he survived with only a few bruises, and a bad case of the heebie-jeebies, but if he had swerved his car in a different direction, he could have plowed into a tree or into the marsh across the road, where he would not have been so lucky."
Source(s): 'The Ghost of Stenabaugh Cemetery'. Thanks are extended to Amy Cripps for her help and permission to use her account here. You can visit Amy's own website on ghosts and urban legends (including Stenabaugh Cemetery) at http://www.geocities.com/maulchic2/index.html
Stenabaugh Cemetery is located in Wentworth County, Ontario, Canada, between the towns of Hamilton and Brantford. A picture of the cemetery and other details can be found on the www.interment.net website (the caption reads: 'Stenabaugh Cemetery, established 1863, located on Indian Trail, Ancaster Twsp. Indication is that the first burials date back to the early 1860s'). The photograph by Murray E. Fair clearly shows the unfenced, grass-verged cemetery and the adjacent road, just as described in Amy's account.
The habit of a roadside phantom hitting or clinging to the side of a passing vehicle in assault of the driver is certainly not unknown. On this site, see Ruskington, and Cowleaze.
Location: Highway 81, 30 miles NW of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (USA)
Date/Time: Mid-1970s. MAP
Back in the mid-1970s, when this incident occurred, Michael McQuate (now of San Francisco) was about 10 years old. At the time, Michael and his family lived in a small town in Virginia. Often they would drive to Pennsylvania to spend time with relatives during the holidays. On this particular trip, they were driving late at night, and were on a lonely stretch of the highway 81, around 30 miles northwest of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Michael's father was driving the family station wagon; his mother in the passenger seat, and his older brother and sister were in the back seat. Michael himself rode in the space at the back - "the very-ist back".
What happened next, Michael's father recalled as "still the strangest thing that ever happened to me". Michael recalls seeing a figure in the gloom up ahead, a very unusual sight on a cold night on a lonely highway miles from anywhere As they got closer, they realised that the figure - a man - was walking in the middle of their lane and it was too late to avoid him.
"The moment before we were going to flatten him seemed to stretch out for minutes," said Michael. "I could tell it was a man by the width of the shoulders and his gait. He was wearing a very long grey coat that came to about his knees. He had pants of the same colour, which were tucked into beat up, dirty leather boots; in fact he seemed kind of dirty and ragged all over. On his back was a backpack with a bedroll attached. He wore a small cap, also grey, of the type I've only seen in pictures of Civil War soldiers. In his left hand he carried some very long object that from behind looked exactly like a rifle butt. The really bizarre thing was that although he was walking very purposefully and erect, not staggering or weaving, he seemed to be completely and utterly oblivious to the fact that we were closing on him at around 60 mph.
"There was no time to hit the brakes. My dad jerked the wheel to the left and the car lurched toward the passing lane. It was too late, we were going too fast and he was too close to us. We expected a sickening dull thud, but it never came. My dad got control of the car and slowed down. If we had missed him, it was by a matter of inches. As we swerved, I looked out the side and then rear windows of the car expecting to see him in the glow of the tail-lights, but I could see nothing but road."
That the man was dressed as a Confederate soldier of the American Civil War, and that they were just miles from the site of one of the bloodiest battles of that war, went without notice. They decided that the man was either drunk or intent on suicide. At no point did they think he may have been an apparition. He was too solid-looking.
A few miles down the road, they arrived at the entrance to the Pennsylvania Turnpike to start on the last leg of their journey. Michael's father reported the incident to the man in the toll-booth. Unexpectedly, the man laughed, saying something like, "Ah! I guess the ghosts are out wandering again tonight!" - to which Michael's dad 'got mad', and wouldn't leave until he got an assurance that a Highway Patrol car would be sent out to investigate.
Source(s): 'Gettysburg Straggler', by Michael McQuate, Fortean Times (Letters), Issue 162, September 2002, p.53.
Location: Union Cemetery, Easton, Connecticut (USA)
Date/Time: Various; 1993. MAP
Union Cemetery, and the adjacent road, are rightly renowned as the haunt of a ghostly 'Lady in White' who has haunted the locality for over five decades. In the 1990s, two witnesses came forward to claim sightings.
Fireman Glen Pennell's experience took place one night in 1993 when he and a police sheriff drove out to investigate three power transformers that had been knocked out by an electrical storm near to the cemetery. As they drove past the front of the cemetery, the officer suddenly screamed, "Watch out!".
Standing in the middle of the road ahead was a woman dressed all in white. Pennell applied the brakes immediately, but couldn't stop in time, and the truck hit her. The woman was thrown over the hood of the truck, and then fell back to the ground in front of the vehicle. Jumping out to take a look, there was no sign of the woman. "There was no blood, no clothing, no body. There was nothing."
Rod Vecsey met the lady in white whilst driving alone past the spot one night. The experience began with the strange feeling that someone was sitting next to him in the car. Looking across to the passenger seat, he was confronted with the apparently solid figure of a man. He watched the figure as it looked forward, then back, and then vanished. When he looked up, he saw the woman in the road. Stepping on the brakes, the woman came from around forty feet away to directly in front of the car, where she extended her arm toward him in a gesture that was less an incitement to stop than a plea. The figure passed through the car before vanishing, leaving the witness with an impression of sadness so strong he started to cry.
Source(s): The source for these accounts is a segment ('Lady in White') of the popular American series on the paranormal, Sightings (a trademark of Paramount Pictures).
Another provides an alternative spelling for the name of one of the White Lady witnesses: Ron Veschi, rather than Rod Vecsey. See also: Graveyard by Ed & Lorraine Warren (with Robert David Chase), ‘Strange Passenger’ (chapter), pp.52-58, and ‘Videotaping a Ghost’ (pp.59-62) which describes Ed Warren’s claimed success in capturing the White Lady on tape (at 2.40 a.m. on 1 September 1990); and Haunted Places; The National Directory by Dennis William Hauck, pp.94 & 95 - The White Lady ghost that haunts Union Cemetery is also said to haunt the nearby cemetery of Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel at Monroe. Ed Warren believes the ghost, which was ‘run over’ by a local fireman in 1993, to be that of a Mrs Knot, whose husband was murdered near Easton in the 1940s, and may herself have been murdered shortly afterward. (An alternative identity is given by an unnamed elderly informant, who claimed the ghost to be the young widow of Andrew S. Wheeler, who was said to have been murdered on one of her regular and faithful visits to the graveside of her husband.
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