Now let me get this straight. You saw evidence of a UFO perched over Sun City Summerlin about 2 a.m. ... on Thursday, Jan. 12?
"Yes, sir. That's correct," said George Ruta, a resident of the senior community.
Are you sure you weren't drinking?
"No. I was asleep, but the noise woke me up," Ruta said. "First it sounded like a plane that was very near. Then it sounded like a car engine that was idling. ... It really was the kind of sound I never heard before."
Are you sure you weren't dreaming?
"I looked out of my bedroom window, which faces the street, and then I saw two bright shapes, both shining across the street, just beyond those two houses," he said, pointing. "One light was a multicolored sphere. The other was a very bright white circle, with red inside it. At that point everything was perfectly quiet. The lights stayed that way for about a minute or so, then they moved quickly in the direction of those power lines along Cheyenne Avenue."
Did you go outside?
"Truthfully, I was too scared when I heard the noise, then saw the lights," he said. "I never saw anything like it before. I honestly believe it was a UFO."
Ruta spoke in a perfectly normal tone as he pointed out the direction of the sound and just where the two "strange-looking lights" appeared. He invited me into his home to see where his bed was situated and how easily he was able to see the lights through the blinds on his bedroom window.
Ruta said he eventually fell back asleep but was awakened again just before 6 a.m. This time, he said he heard the sounds of helicopters.
"There were two of them," he said. "They were small helicopters. It was just before dawn, so I was unable to see any markings on either copter. They came from the same (westerly) direction as the UFO. One of the helicopters hovered just above the same area as the UFO lights, for maybe a minute and a half. Then they both flew away, following the same path as the UFO, across Cheyenne Avenue and in that (northerly) direction."
Ruta said he called the Sun City Security Patrol to inquire about the helicopters, but he didn't mention the UFO incident earlier that morning. Security patrol chief Judy Hunt said the official logs for that morning revealed one call concerning the helicopters, at 6:18 a.m., from someone other than Ruta.
There had been no calls to the Security Patrol about UFO sightings. Ruta said he spoke to several of his neighbors to ask if they heard or saw anything abnormal at approximately 2 a.m. Jan. 12.
"One woman told me she thought she heard a strange noise," he said. "I called the police after I saw the UFO lights, and they told me they knew nothing about it. Later, I realized that I had called the North Las Vegas Police. I live here only a short time, and I don't know the area that well."
Ruta explained that he recently inherited his Sun City house after the deaths of his parents.
"I also called MUFON and reported what I saw and heard," he said, referring to the Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network, a nonprofit, worldwide organization that investigates UFO sightings.
However, another Las Vegas sighting was reported to the UFO Clearinghouse, a similar organization, on Jan. 4. The person who reported the sighting said he and his girlfriend were at a carwash at about 3 p.m. when they "saw a dark tunnel-appearing patch of sky over Las Vegas, around Eastern (Avenue) and Sunset Road. ... I think this may have been responsible for the phone shutdown ... "
One other strange incident occurred the morning of Jan. 12, on the perimeter of Sun City. An elderly couple were killed in a single-auto accident at about 1:45 a.m. According to what witnesses told a Nevada Highway Patrol officer, their car, while exiting the Las Vegas Beltway, struck a concrete barrier just before Cheyenne Avenue. The car was estimated to be traveling in excess of 70 mph.
"That happened just before I heard the UFO and saw those lights," Ruta said. "Maybe that couple was distracted by hearing and seeing the same thing."
Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His newest novel, "All For Nothing," is now available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.