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The Season 3 episode of “9-1-1” titled “Fallout” opens with a woman having some cosmically bad luck that touches upon one of the most fascinating real-life injuries in human history.
The episode begins with a distraught woman getting a new weighted blanket to comfort herself after being let go from her “content creation” job. As she takes a nap on her couch, tragedy strikes from on high.
A meteorite hurtles from space and just so happens to land on her house, cutting through her, her sofa, and the floor. Miraculously, she’s alive. The members of the 118 determine the space rock missed her spine and all her major organs; thanks to the weighted blanket containing the blast, the heat was able to cauterize the wound immediately.
As she laments another miraculous stroke of bad luck, Evan “Buck” Buckley (Oliver Stark) notes she’s the second person in human history to ever be struck by a meteorite. She can let her content creation job go since she’s likely going to be very famous after she gets all patched up. While this case was a work of fiction, Buck’s fun fact about there being only one other person in recorded history to be struck by a meteorite is indeed true.
In 1954, 34-year-old Ann Hodges was taking a nap on her sofa at a rental in Sylacauga, Alabama, when a meteorite came crashing through the ceiling. It ricocheted off a standing radio before striking her in the hip. Fortunately, Hodges’ only injury was a massive and nasty-looking bruise on her side, according to "Insider." Like the woman on “9-1-1,” it is speculated that wearing a blanket helped her escape worse injuries.
Unlike the woman on “9-1-1,” though, Hodges’ experience did not lead to financial benefits. She was a shy woman who was uncomfortable with all the attention, according to "Insider." In fact, her husband’s desire to make money off the sale of what became known as the “Hodges Meteorite” reportedly led to friction in their marriage, which ended years after the incident.
He wasn’t the only one trying to cash in on the experience. Hodges’ landlady, Birdie Guy, claimed the rock was her property since that’s where it landed. Hodges and the court of public opinion, meanwhile, felt ownership should go to the person it landed on.
By the time their legal battle was done, "Slate" reports public interest in the story had waned and, rather than sell it, Hodges used it as a doorstop before giving it away to the Alabama Museum of Natural History. Meanwhile, a farmer who found a piece of the meteorite that was half the size of the 8.5-pound rock that hit Hodges sold his discovery for enough money to buy a new house and a car.
Hodges died of kidney failure in 1972 at age 52 with nothing but unwanted notoriety to show for her harrowing, one-of-a-kind experience. To this day, she remains the only person to ever be struck by a meteorite.
According to the Smithsonian, the odds of being struck by a meteorite are greater than the odds of being struck by lightning and, unfortunately, significantly greater than the odds of winning the PowerBall lottery. That said, it doesn’t mean they’re not a threat to humanity. Meteorites have been known to hit parked cars, other houses, and more — with no direct harm done to people. In 2007, though, a meteorite hit Peru and made people sick when it released arsenic fumes from an underground water source, according to "The Guardian."
Toxic fumes also played a role in the “Fallout” episode of “9-1-1.” The episode sees Henrietta “Hen” Wilson (Aisha Hinds) undergo therapy to cope with an ambulance accident that left an innocent woman dead while Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) gets sucked back into the abusive relationship between Tara (Ellen Hollman) and Vincent (Scott Speiser). All this culminates with the 118 responding to a truck crash in a tunnel. It turns out a company was trying to cut corners by secretly moving toxic waste across Los Angeles. With the driver pinned in the truck, Bobby Nash instructs his crew to vacate the area while he stays behind trying to free the driver, thus exposing himself to the toxic fumes.
It’s unclear by the end of the episode what the damage is to his body, but if a woman can be struck through the chest with a meteorite and live to tell the tale — perhaps Nash will be OK too.
Rerun episodes of "9-1-1" air every Thursday on USA Network.
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