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Boulder falls on Virginia highway after meteor lights up the night sky, confusing many

A vehicle crashed in the 14800 block of U.S. 360 in Chesterfield County, Virginia, after hitting this rock. The driver was not seriously injured.
A vehicle crashed in the 14800 block of U.S. 360 in Chesterfield County, Virginia, after hitting this rock. The driver was not seriously injured.

A boulder came out of nowhere and landed on a Virginia highway overnight, leading to confusion when the timing followed widespread reports of a fireball streaking along the East Coast late Thursday.

The American Meteor Society says it received nearly 40 reports from people who saw a “fireball” over the Carolinas and Virginia, including callers from the Richmond area where the boulder fell.

Witnesses said the fireball appeared around 8 p.m. moving to the north, and dash cam video obtained by ABC11 showed it appeared on the horizon as a bright white ball with a tail of fire.

Hours later came news that a boulder had mysteriously appeared on a highway southeast of Richmond — and it was big enough to throw a passing car onto its roof, Lt. Justin Aronson of the Chesterfield County Police said on Twitter.

Aronson posted photos of the boulder surrounded by orange cones and flares, along with an image of the unlucky car resting on its front windshield. The rock was the size of a picnic table, TV station WTVR reported.

South Australia Police released CCTV footage from Mount Gambier in Australia of a meteor lighting up the night sky as it crashed down to Earth on May 21, 2019. Video shows a falling ball of light followed by a bright flash.

The boulder landed on U.S. 360, also known as Hull Road, at around 4 a.m. It didn’t take long for some to connect the boulder to the fireball, both on Twitter and Facebook.

“Did this come from the sky around 8-9 last night?” one Twitter user wrote. “I was sitting at Kroger ... and saw what looked to be the biggest meteorite I’ve ever seen. I seriously waited to hear the sound upon impact but never did.”

“I really hope it is not part of the Moon. But seriously. WHAT THE!?” another user tweeted.

“It’s Friday the 13th, and a full moon. Anything goes,” posted one person on Facebook.

As the debate continued, some that there were no “skid marks” or a large crater to support the meteor theory. “Did it have a parachute? Come on people,” said J.J. White on Facebook.

A meteorologist at Richmond’s NBC12 spotted the discussion — which included GIFs of falling meteors — and he weighed in with a sobering response early Friday.

“Someone suggested in my timeline that it could be a meteorite,” Andrew Freiden tweeted. “But it’s not. If it were a meteorite we would all be dead. #HappyFriday.”

His best guess? “Maybe somebody pushed it off of a roadside or median,” Freiden tweeted.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has since removed the boulder, county police said, but the debate rages on. The driver of the flipped car was not injured, officials said.

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