On October 12, 1963, in the middle of a terrible storm around 3 AM, Mateo Manocchio and his wife, children, and sister were driving home from a visit to the countryside in Monte Maiz, Argentina. Mateo’s brother, Ricardo, was following the family in a separate car. (Sounds like the opening scene of a horror movie, I know.)
While passing along a cemetery road, the Manocchios noticed a strong beam of white light shining behind them. The family figured it came from a̶ ̶g̶h̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶ Ricardo’s headlights, but the light suddenly went out by the time they reached the entrance of Monte Maiz. Mateo, worried, turned the car around to look for his brother.
After backtracking, the Manocchios found Uncle Ricardo perfectly fine. He’d fallen behind, was all. But where did the white light come from? The family wasn’t sure. Ricardo, in fact, had no idea what they were talking about. He hadn’t seen any strange light. The Manocchios shrugged their shoulders and continued on.
Coming into town, however, things only got weirder. Monte Maiz had lost its power and the lights were out. Confused citizens found a hysterical, blanket-wrapped man, running around in the rain, waving a revolver and firing shots. The gunman begged for help, so some presumably terrified bystanders redirected him to the police.
The man’s name was Eugenio Douglas. He was a 48-year-old truck driver from the city of Venado Tuerto, and he had a perfectly good explanation for why he was publicly shooting and waving his gun like a maniac: He’d been chased by robots and a UFO.
Hours earlier, Douglas was carefully driving his truck on the slippery road when a red light suddenly flashed in front of him. Startled, Douglas let go of the wheel, sending his truck into a ditch.
The crash was bad. Douglas briefly lost consciousness, but he wasn’t hurt. He also found that his truck wouldn’t start. Grabbing his revolver, which he kept in the case of a hijacking, Douglas hopped out of the truck to see what happened.
Far off in the distance, Douglas noticed a kind of vehicle giving off a white light. A door opened, two human-like figures stepping out of it. The light shut off, hiding the figures in the darkness.
A few minutes later, a new light appeared from the opposite side of the road. This light beamed itself at Douglas and prickled his face and hands with a burning sensation. A UFO then appeared with two more goddamn shining lights. Douglas justly shot at these never-ending lights, at which point they disappeared.
Just when the UFO was gone, Douglas realized there were three or four figures around him. He couldn’t see their faces too well in the dark, but they were “robot-like” humanoids, with helmets and antennas. Unfortunately for Douglas, these aliens decided the harassment wouldn’t stop until there was a long chase scene.
Running for his life from the robots, Douglas was every now and then attacked by a red light. It blinded and burned him, so to protect his body, he covered himself with a blanket he’d been carrying. As he ran, it became apparent that there was a UFO in the sky, flying over him.
Douglas jolted through the cemetery and didn’t stop running until he got to Monte Maiz. By the time he’d reached the town, the robots and UFO were gone. Back at the police station, police were skeptical of Douglas’s story, dismissing him as a lying drunk. In the morning, they took him to see a doctor, Francisco Davolos.
Davolos wasn’t impressed much with the story either, but he found the wounds on Douglas’s face strange. They looked like signs of erysipelas (a kind of skin infection) rather than burn marks. Since the police were so disinterested, Davolos only ran a few basic tests on Douglas. Save for the marks, which vanished after a few days of ointment treatment, there was nothing unusual about him.
Later, the police went to look for Douglas’s truck. It was stuck in a ditch, just as he had said. The authorities also found footprints, confirming the chase part of the story. I’ve read in some places that the footprints were misshaped or obviously nonhuman, but this isn’t true. Douglas was running alone.
In later years, rumors sprang up that Eugenio Douglas, Francisco Davolos, and a few members of the Manocchio family died from being exposed to radiation from the lights of the UFO. These rumors aren’t true either. In the 1980s, investigators tracked down the major characters here and found them all alive and well. Even Douglas, at the age of 72, was in fine health.
So what on earth do we make of Eugenio Douglas’s story of burning red lights and angry stalking androids? Firstly, I don’t buy the idea that the light the Manocchios saw didn’t come from a car. It was raining and foggy, so perhaps they weren’t seeing clearly.
Secondly, Monte Maiz losing power was a weird coincidence. The power plant was having technical difficulties that night because their equipment was old and outdated. According to an employee named Bonifacio Fernandez, the power had already gone out multiple times that day, long before Douglas’s arrival.
Lastly, Douglas’s solitary footprints should be taken as proof that he was alone that night. Since he apparently ran for hours, I do think he BELIEVED he was being chased. The culprits were not extraterrestrials, however, but hallucinations. Douglas might have been physically unharmed from his crash, but what about mentally? Such a close encounter with death might have sent him into a terrible shock, which could also explain the hysteria he exhibited in Monte Maiz.
Check out my book “Mexico’s Unsolved Mysteries: True Stories of Ghosts, Monsters, and UFOs from South of the Border” for more interesting mysteries of the Spanish-speaking world. You can buy the book on Kindle here.