The Shag Harbour Crash—witnesses and initial moments
There were a large number of witnesses to the initial moments of the crash recorded in the Ledger and Styles Dark Object book. These witnesses all saw a large object head down towards the harbor, but didn't see actual impact (though heard a loud noise). Upon getting to a clear view of the harbor, a light was then seen bobbing on the water (including by 3 RCMP officers) before disappearing. Since then, Don Ledger has indicated in lectures and Internet interviews that more witnesses have been found, including at least one who directly saw the object make a soft landing on the water (rather than a hard impact). More details if and when I get them.
Time: 11:20 p.m.
Location: Highway 3, Lower Woods Harbour, half mile west of Shag Harbour
Witnesses: Laurie Wickens, 18, fisherman, and four friends
Wickens was driving home with four friends eastward toward Shag Harbour along the coast on the winding Highway 3. They saw an object flying low in the sky, flashing four lights, one after another, in a straight line. It appeared to be descending slowly at about a 45 deg. angle. Sometimes it appeared to stop and hover, then descend again. Wickens saw it disappear behind the tree line between the highway and the water. He though he heard a whistling sound, then a whoosh, and then a bang. One of the girl passengers also heard a whoosh. The car approached a small rise and a clearing. The object had impacted on the surface of the ocean about 200-300 yards offshore. It bobbled on the surface, showing a pale yellow light. After viewing for a few minutes, they were concerned it might be a crashed airliner. They drove to a phone booth 2 miles away at Woods Harbour to call the RCMP.
Time: Unspecified, probably about 11:20 p.m.
Location: Highway 3, 3 miles east of Shag Harbour
Witnesses: Norm Smith, 17, and Dave Kendricks, 18
Returning from dates, Smith and Kendricks were driving west on Highway 3, probably about the same time as Laurie Wickens and friends. They too saw the lights of an object over the trees toward Shag Harbour, moving approximately to the SE. Kendricks said there were 4 or 5 glowing lights, with a color somewhere between red and orange, pointed downwards at a 45 deg. angle. He thought it might be a low-flying aircraft being tested nearby. Smith remarked that the lights appeared to be heading downward. His first guess was that it was a low-flying airliner, but that didn't seem quite right. Smith was to eventually speak to the Halifax Chronicle-Record, which carried an extensive story on the crash, and reported hearing the whistling sound. The lights dropped behind the trees and they lost sight after maybe 5 seconds. Kendricks dropped off Smith at home, went home and told his mother about it, then went to bed. Smith, however, was to again spot the object, or a similar one, west of his house appearing to head down into Shag Harbour. He ran to get his father Wilfred. The two thought it might be an airliner crashing and decided to go down there. Wilfred Smith woke up his brother Lawrence to assist. All the Smiths were soon heavily involved in the search for the crashed object along with the RCMP.
Time: 11:25 p.m.
Location: RCMP Detachment, Barrington Passage
Witness: Corporal Victor Werbicki, duty officer
Werbicki was the senior officer in the RCMP Detachment, Barrington Passage, was alone on duty, and took Wickens' call. Wickens told him he thought an airliner had crashed into the sound of Shag Harbour. Werbicki at first didn't believe him and thought he might be drunk. He took his number and told Wickens to stay by the phone.
Immediately afterwards, Werbicki got another call from Mary Banks of Garron Point, overlooking the sound and Shag Harbour. She too had heard the whistling sound and a bang, saw something on the sound, and thought an airplane might have crashed.
Another women called to say she and a friend had been driving south near the shore of Cape Sable Island, about 13 miles NE of Shag Harbour. They also saw an object flashing lights in sequence, descending into the Shag Harbour area, and thought it might have crashed.
Then a man called from Bear Point, just NE of Shag Harbour, reporting a whistling sound, a flash of light, and a loud bang, and again thought something may have crashed near the Harbour.
Werbicki called Wickens back and apologized for his earlier skepticism. He said he was dispatching two constables and himself and to meet him at the Irish Moss plant, Shag Harbour. Wickens then expressed doubts as to whether the object really was an airliner.
Werbicki then called the only two RCMP officers in the area, Ron Pond and Ron O'Brien. They were driving east on Highway 3, right through Shag Harbour at the time of the crash. They were now about 4 miles east of Shag Harbour when they got the call to return to the office. When they got back, they were surprised at the reports of a crash, since they had just gone through Shag Harbour and had seen nothing amiss.
Werbicki also called the RCMP Subdivision in Halifax, who called HQ in Ottowa. HQ filed a UFO report with the Air Force. The Air Force contacted the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) in Halifax, who would attempt any rescues. Werbicki also expressed concerns about a possible plane crash, so Halifax was to check for any missing planes and get back.