Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 2nd, 2010
One of the first eyewitnesses I ever interviewed about an alleged Midwestern strange cryptid sighting, I’ve learned, 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.
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, passing away just last year. So many gone are from those days, it seems. Then I was startled to learn recently that Steve had cancer, and had not been doing too well lately.
I was able to finally reach Steve by phone a few days ago. 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 affirmed what he’d seen.
Steve said he was going through tests, and was being moved. His transfer to another facility was followed by a rapid decline, and his peaceful passing occurred soon afterward.
My deepest condolences to his family and friends.
Then later in the day, on Saturday, I was alerted to more bad news. I talked last night to investigator, cryptozoologist, and my youngest brother, Jerry Dale Coleman, author of Strange Highways and More Strange Highways. He has taken a turn for the worse, in Tennessee. As you may know, he’s suffering from the effects of throat and lung cancer.
Jerry has hardly been able to walk, of late. After the results of a MRI came in yesterday, it was revealed there is a “spot on the spine.” Jerry was then told the medical tests had furthermore found an aneurysm on his aorta. He has two weeks to obtain emergency surgery – or die. At least, that’s the way he heard it.
Jerry is in so much pain, he is no longer in good spirits, due to the medications.
We lightened up our talk by discussing what clothing he’s already picked out for the Body Farm, a la’ Grover Krantz. That helped, believe it or not.
If you are a research associate or friend from his past, get in touch with Jerry, and tell him a joke.
Jerry is the one in the middle in this old photo, taken at 123 Longview Place, Decatur, Illinois. I am to the right (with the football) and that’s Bill at the left.