Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 21st, 2011
One of the first eyewitnesses I ever interviewed about an alleged Midwestern strange cryptid sighting, as I wrote at the time, died on Saturday, May 1, 2010, in Florida.
I had known Steve Collins well during our early days in Decatur, Illinois. I actually spent four years in the same homeroom with him. Due to our last names being so close to each other in the alphabet, we sat near or next to each other in most classes.
A few years after our graduation from Douglas MacArthur High School in 1965, I took my notes of my interviews with Steve, and wrote about the strange encounter that Steve said he had had. He received local attention (although not overt media mentions), at the onset.
My authored account of his encounter appears in several of my books (e.g. Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America) and others, such as in Janet and Colin Bord’s The Bigfoot Casebook (1982). Today, the name “Steve Collins” is noted in historic hominology studies, regarding his 1962 sighting, near Decatur, Illinois. It seems hard to consider that next year, this encounter will be marking its 50th year. Where has the time gone?
Even John A. Keel wrote of Steve’s encounter in his 1970 book Strange Creatures From Time and Space, on page 105. Keel recorded the incident this way:
“…in November 1962, Steve Collins said he, Robert Earle, and two unidentified men had seen a large gray animal standing upright in the middle of a creek [named Stevens Creek] east of Decatur, Illinois, off East William Street Road. They felt it was definitely not a bear.”
The mention was five years before Keel had penned his now-famous The Mothman Prophecies, which was the source of the 2002 Richard Gere movie. Of course, this is the film that Keel and I worked together with Sony/Screen Gems around the tagline, “Based on a true story.”
Time moves along, and sometimes the changing news is rather unexpected. Keel is gone, Steve Collins is gone. So many have left us from those days, it seems.
I was able to reach Steve by phone a few days before he died. We chatted until he grew tired. He told me he’d been in Florida for 17 years, after moving from Decatur. We even talked of the incident in Stevens Creek again, and he reaffirmed what he’d seen.
No one will ever know what Steve saw. But as November creeps by, I was reminded of it, once again.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.