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Cursed Night in Steamboat Canyon

Bad omens lead to an accident with something unknown


AS WITH ANYTHING else that we experience, we perceive paranormal or mysterious events through the filters of our culture and beliefs. Such is certainly the case for Kelly S., a Navajo Native American, who with other members of her family had a bizarre and frightening experience one night on a dark Arizona road. Although she tells her story from the perspective of a Navajo – a culture rich in folklore and myth – it’s evident that anyone from anywhere would be perplexed and even terrified by what happened. This is Kelly’s story....

This strange event happened about seven or eight years ago when I was around 16 or 17. I was with my sister, her husband, her husband's sister, and two of my cousins, who are brothers. We were driving back from Cortez, Colorado, passing through the Navajo Indian Reservation and the mesas near Steamboat Canyon, Arizona. It was late at night and all we could see ahead of us was darkness and tall trees.


We were driving in a white pickup truck. I was sitting in the front with my sister and her husband and the others were in the back of the truck. All of a sudden, a coyote ran across the road in front of us, so we said a prayer. For a Navajo, when that happens it's considered bad luck.

We were driving for I don't know how much longer when three or four more coyotes dashed in front of our truck. Then, as if that wasn't freaky enough, we started seeing owls. To see an owl is very, very bad luck, let alone more than one. In Navajo culture, to see an owl at strange times can mean death or that someone close to you will get hurt bad. We saw about six of them – and the weird thing about that is there were six of us traveling that night.

As we continued on our way home, we put those omens out of our minds. After a while, we pulled over to the side of the road so I could switch seats with one of my cousins; I jumped in the back and he took the seat up front. We were on a dirt road only about five minutes away from our house.


We were actually in sight of the house and going about 30 mph when suddenly something huge, shapeless and pitch black jumped in front of the truck. We hit that thing so hard that the front of the truck was completely smashed. It happened so fast. But when we realized what had hit something, we stopped the truck and got out to look around. What confused us is that this thing jumped out from the right side of the road, but there was a high wooden fence there, blocking that whole side of the road. So it seemed to us that this creature’s movement was deliberate.

We walked to the front of the truck and found a few drops of blood and a few strands of coarse black hair. We tried to get the truck started, but the engine wouldn't turn over. The only light we had was one headlight on the left side that still worked. Using only that, we strained to see what we hit, but we couldn't find any trace of it: no footprints, no trail of blood drops anywhere. There was absolutely nothing.

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