Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ride of the Phantom Car

The heat of the June night was oppressive as 20-year-old Christian Hackett drove home.

“It was really hot. One of those hot nights when it’s 90 and the sun’s down,” Hackett, of Parkville, Mo., said.

He sat at the stoplight at Riss Lake Drive and Missouri 45 in Parkville just after midnight, preparing to turn right onto the highway, when he saw a car.

“I pulled up at a red light; there was a car in the lane I was going to turn into,” Hackett said. “I let it pass.”

As the car sped by, Hackett noticed a second car in the distance.

“It looked different than a regular car,” Hackett said. “It was low to the ground. It looked old. When cars get older the headlights don’t look bright.”

Hackett judged the distance between the oncoming car and his own to be safe, and pulled out from the stoplight.

“I saw I had space,” he said. “We were the only two cars on the highway. The car I let pass, I couldn’t even see it.”

As he pulled onto the highway, the lights of the old car quickly filled his rearview mirror. It was closing on him.

“I’m driving and the car that I saw started coming up a whole like faster than what it had been before,” he said. “It got closer and closer.”

After about a half-mile, Hackett pulled into the turning lane at the next intersection, the car in the rearview mirror closing on him uncomfortably fast.

“I heard the car as it was coming,” Hackett said. “I had the radio on, but as the car came closer, I could hear it. I could hear the car over the music.”

As the car’s headlights began to fill Hackett’s cab, he tried to catch a glimpse of the vehicle bearing down on him. He couldn’t see the car, just its lights. Now the fear that had been eating at the corners of Hackett’s mind now sat along side him.

“I was slowing down to turn and as I was turning, the car was getting closer and closer and closer,” he said. “It looked like it was going to hit me and right as it would have hit me, it just vanished.”

Hackett had just pulled into the middle of the intersection when the car disappeared.

“I was driving, but I was like, ‘oh, my God.’ I looked back and there was nothing,” he said. “I swear the car was in the rearview the whole time. It was just gone. I looked behind me, in front of me, on the side road, nothing. It was as if the car just vanished into my car.”

When Hackett regained his bearings, he simply continued driving.

“I double checked, I triple checked and there was no car,” Hackett said. “I didn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. At the time I was just thinking, ‘what the hell happened?’ I was just really, really confused and scared. I had no idea what had happened.”

Hackett had traveled that section of M-45 often since his family moved to Parkville in 1990 – nothing like this had ever happened to him.

“I’ve probably driven that road a million times and never seen anything,” Hackett said. “I took that to high school every day. It’s a road I can never avoid. I have to take 45 Highway anywhere I need to go. I was probably on that road the next day at 9 or 10 in the morning.”

Although Hackett didn’t talk about this incident to his family, he knew something unexplainable had happened to him. A friend’s childhood stories confirmed to him something was amiss on that road.

“The intersection where I was taking a left on, on the right my friend lived in a farm house there,” Hackett said. “He said he used to see (ghostly) things.”

Legends of phantom cars – vehicles that appear, drive at high speeds, then disappear – have been reported over the past century from Georgia, to Hawaii, to Germany, to South Africa.

However, according to the Platte County Missouri Historical Society, there is no record of phantom car stories from that stretch of road. This news doesn’t deter Hackett.

“This is my first paranormal experience ever. This is the first thing that ever scared the crap out of me,” Hackett said. “But I don’t care if people think I’m crazy. I know what I saw.”

Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

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