Vickie Landrum (left) and Betty Cash fell victim to radiation sickness after a December 1980 close encounter. INTERCONTINENTAL U.F.O. GALACTIC SPACECRAFT RESEARCH AND ANALYTIC NETWORK ARCHIVES
A chance encounter with a UFO one evening on Dec. 29, 1980 was the cause of some nasty burns for two Texas women that caused a doctor to diagnose one of them with a case of radiation poisoning.
The health problems for both women occurred shortly after driving through the southern tip of the East Texas piney woods, north of Houston. It was then that Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum, and Vickie’s seven-year-old grandson Colby spotted a huge diamond-shaped object hovering just above the trees — no more than 130 feet away.
Upon seeing this unexpected vision, Cash slammed on the brakes, and decided to investigate with her elder friend Landrum. But the moment they stepped outside the car, they felt intense heat. At first, just their faces began to burn, but when they returned to the safety of the car Landrum immediately noticed that when she touched the car’s dashboard, it actually left a handprint.
Just then, the UFO began to ascend, but not without fanfare, when 23 military helicopters came flying from all directions trying to corner the strange object. Not only did Cash and Landrum witnesses the flap of helicopters trying to surround the UFO, other motorists further down the road confirmed seeing the pursuit.
The UFO easily alluded the helicopters and disappeared into the horizon, but the price Cash and Landrum paid for their curiosity had just begun.
Once after they returned home, all three became ill, with Cash suffering the most. She suffered blisters, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, red eyes and loss of hair. On January 3, she could not walk and was barely conscious when she was admitted to a Houston hospital. Her friend and grandson were suffering from less severe but similar symptoms.
Cash’s health problems continued until her death at the age of 69 on Dec. 29, 1998, 18 years after her alleged close encounter.
In September 1991, Dr. Brian McClelland, Cash’s personal physician, told the Houston Post that her condition was a “textbook case” of radiation poisoning. He said it was comparable to being “three to five miles from the epicenter of Hiroshima.”
A radiologist who examined the witnesses’ medical records for MUFON wrote, “We have strong evidence that these patients have suffered secondary damage to ionizing radiation. It is also possible that there was an infrared component as well” (quoted in Clark, 176).
For years, the three had pursued their case through the courts, seeking answers and compensation for their health problems, but officials denied any knowledge of the incident, although the helicopters have been identified as twin-rotor Boeing CH-47 Chinooks, used by both the Army and the Marines.
Still, investigators could find no evidence linking the helicopters with any branch of the military. According to Texas Monthly, “To this day, there is no conclusive explanation of the night’s events.”