British Columbia

Woman rocked awake by meteorite chunk crashing into her bedroom

Ruth Hamilton was sound asleep in Golden, B.C., last week when she was awoken by her dog barking, the sound of a crash through her ceiling and the feeling of debris on her face.

Ruth Hamilton says space rock came through the ceiling, landing on her pillow at her Golden, B.C., home

A meteorite rests on Ruth Hamilton's bed in her home in Golden, B.C. (Submitted by Ruth Hamilton)

Ruth Hamilton had been asleep for hours in her Golden, B.C., home when she awoke to the sound of her dog barking, giving her a moment's notice before a rock from outer space hurtled into her bedroom.

"The next thing was just a huge explosion and debris all over my face," Hamilton recalled in an interview Tuesday.

"I jumped out of bed and turned on the lights. I didn't know what else to do, so I called 911," she said.

"Talking to the operator, she was asking me all kinds of questions, and at that point, I rolled back one of the two pillows I'd been sleeping on and in between them was the meteorite."

A charcoal-grey chunk of rock roughly the size of a melon had plummeted from space, tearing through Hamilton's roof before coming to rest on her floral pillowcase, inches from where her head had been moments earlier.

"I was shaking like a leaf," said Hamilton. "You're sound asleep, safe, you think, in your bed, and you can get taken out by a meteorite, apparently."

A hole in the ceiling is seen above a meteorite resting on a bed inside Hamilton's home. Hamilton said she was sound asleep when she was awakened by her dog barking, the sound of a crash through her ceiling and the feeling of debris on her face. (Submitted by Ruth Hamilton)

Initially, Hamilton didn't know it was a meteorite. She and an RCMP officer dispatched to investigate suspected it was debris from a construction site on nearby Highway 1, which runs through the town, nestled in the Canadian Rockies.

"He called up there and they said they had not done any blasting that night. But the workers had seen a meteorite, or a falling star, explode and there was a couple of booms.… Then we knew that it was a meteorite that had crashed through my roof," Hamilton said.

Hamilton reported the find to a team of experts at Western University in London, Ont., who confirmed the rock was indeed from space.

"It's certainly a meteorite," said Peter Brown, a professor with the university's physics and astronomy department.

"Everything about the story was consistent with a meteorite fall, and the fact that this bright fireball had occurred basically right at the same time made it a pretty overwhelming case."

Hamilton plans to send the meteorite to Brown and his team. Brown said they hope to identify the type of meteorite within the next month, but he suspects it fell from the solar system's main asteroid belt.

The hole in the roof from a meteorite that crashed into Hamilton's home. (Submitted by Ruth Hamilton)

Brown also said it's not the first time a meteorite has fallen into someone's bedroom before; it happened in Indonesia within the last year.

Hamilton said she didn't tell anybody about what had happened for a few days while she absorbed the experience.

Apart from being shaken up, she wasn't hurt. She said she plans to keep the rock once researchers have finished their work. 

Brown said the university team is asking anyone with security or dashcam footage of a fireball over the Golden area around 11:30 p.m. PT on Oct. 3 to send the video their way.

The town of Golden, population 3,700, is near the B.C.-Alberta border, around 200 kilometres west of Calgary.

With files from Yvette Brend


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