A reporter and news director for the local radio station WHJB, John Murphy, arrived on the scene of the event before authorities had arrived, in response to several calls to the station from alarmed citizens, and took several photographs and conducted interviews with witnesses. His former wife Bonnie Milslagle later reported that all but one roll of the film were confiscated by military personnel. WHJB office manager Mabel Mazza described one of the pictures: "It was very dark and it was with a lot of trees around and everything. And I don't know how far away from the site he was. But I did see a picture of a sort of a cone-like thing.
It's the only time I ever saw it."
It soon became common knowledge that some eager, interested civilians had made a trip into the woods before the Military gained control of the area. These few individuals were interviewed by Stan Gordon, and told an amazing story. They stated that they saw a copper-bronze colored, saucer-shaped object crashed in the woods. This craft was anywhere from 9-12 feet in length, and bore a gold band around its bottom. Some of the witnesses described writing on the craft which resembled Egyptian hieroglyphics.
These few witnesses were quickly whisked away when discovered by Military personnel. Later that night, witnesses claimed that they observed a flatbed truck toting a large object, covered by a tarpaulin. Shortly after the departure of the flatbed, many of the Military personnel vacated the search area.
In January 1980 UFO investigator Clark McClelland interviewed the assistant fire chief of Kecksburg, James Mayes, and Melvin Reese, another fireman. They reported that their team had come within sixty meters of the object. They had seen an object on the ground that had smashed its way through the trees. Mayes explained how the military had cordoned off the woods and had established a temporary base, complete with telecom link. Fire chief Robert Bitner would later confirm this story. He also said he had seen an object that was about 6 feet high, 6 feet wide, and some 15 feet long, clearly not an aircraft. It was resting at an angle on the ground as if it had impacted nearly horizontally. Another fire officer, 'Pete', stated he had seen a ring of bumpers around it into which were described some pictorial symbols.
In 1990, researcher Stan Gordon from the Pennsylvania Association for the Study of the Unexplained, traced an apparent first-hand witness, James Romansky. He recalled seeing the object on the ground some 25 years previously, when he was an 18 year old fire fighter. He had been called to duty that night following concerns that an airplane had crashed.
He described the object as bronze coloured and shaped like an acorn-some 12 feet long and 25 feet in diameter; it had slightly raised "blunt" end and strange markings.
"It had writing on it, not like your average writing, but more like ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. It had sort of a bumper on it, like a ribbon about six to 10 inches wide, and it stood out. It was elliptical the whole way around and the writing was on this bumper.It's nothing like I've ever seen, and I'm an avid reader. I read a lot of books on Egypt, the Incas, Peruvians, Russians and I've never to this day come across anything that looked like that."
"It was getting semi-dusk and we had flashlights. We were taken in the back of a truck and dropped off and told to go 'this way' which we did. I was not on the initial contact team. Another team found the object.
"It was definitely, unequivocally, positively, absolutely no aircraft, plane, helicopter or rocket, at least not to my knowledge. It was in an area that was part field and part woods and we went down to investigate," he said.
"We found the object had crashed at a 30 to 40 degree angle, and had broken off numerous tree branches in its impact path. My initial reaction was 'This is no airplane.' I observed no shrapnel, no breaking up of the fuselage. It was one solid piece, no doors, no windows.
"Preliminary searches found no bodies or casualties. It was shaped like an acorn, laying on its side, like the acorn nut is in its shell when it's on a tree," he explained. "I've been a machinist for 24 years and I've worked with a tremendous amount of different metals, and I have never seen any type of metal that looked even close to that."
John said the object was not broken, "not even cracked, just dented a bit. It did not give off smoke, steam or vapors, at least none that we could see."
Reports from neighbors in the area said it had given off a faint trail of blue smoke, which disappeared after the crash.
He described the portion visible as between eight and 10 feet long, six and seven feet across, and said a man of average height would probably have had little trouble standing up inside it. The crater it plowed into the ground was "rectangular in shape."