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Arkansas man says Dover Lights a hoax

By The Associated Press

This article was published August 22, 2009 at 2:07 p.m.

Danny Cruse has spent hundreds of dollars on equipment, everything from night vision goggles to global-positioning systems.

He's spent days wandering the overgrowth of unpopulated areas north of Dover.

He's been scared, scratched and sore as a result of his efforts.

His reward? Three tiki torch fuel canisters and a wadded-up ball of tinfoil.

Cruse, 27, an amateur mythbuster, set out July 11 with a group of seven friends determined to learn the truth behind the legend of the "Dover Lights," a series of flashes locals have claimed for years to see in the valley surrounding the Big Piney Creek north of Dover.

Some describe the lights as multicolored, flashing orbs, while others claim they are a bright white, steady beam. Most frequently observed from an overlook off State Highway 7 popular for bonfires and drinking, they're rumored to be caused by everything from aliens to phosphorescent gases.

Cruse, who moved to Russellville about 10 years ago, said last week they are neither.

Cruse claimed recently that he and another member of the group, Wendal Withers, embarked July 31 on a daytime scouting mission of the area rumored to host the lights following a series of nighttime missions that turned up little.

Just off a four-wheeler trail not far from the Long Pool Recreation Area, a popular swimming spot, Cruse and Withers spotted what they first thought was an emergency warming blanket stretched across the ground.

Upon further investigation, however, the pair discovered not a lost hiker huddled for warmth, but a roll of aluminum foil he described as 4-5 feet wide and two or three layers thick crudely propped up by sticks. Four tiki torches surrounded the construction.

Cruse said he believes the discovery solves the mystery of the lights.

"Everything can be explained, whether it is a hoax or real," Cruse, who works in security at Arkansas Nuclear One, said. "I believe there is a good possibility there is a supernatural.

"This time, unfortunately, it was a hoax."

Cruse said he first witnessed the lights, which he described as a white, steady glow, in high school. Curious about their origins ever since, he acknowledges his discovery can't fully lay to rest a legend that has circulated for decades.

"I've heard people say (the lights) move around, come up out of the mountains at them," he said. "I think a lot of it has to do with alcohol consumption."

Ray Caldwell of Atkins, a 39-year veteran of the Pope County Sheriff's Office who retired in February, did not discount the notion Saturday, saying deputies were forced to patrol the area "quite often" over the years, especially on weekends.

Caldwell himself said he never witnessed anything unusual while on patrol.

"I've never seen anything up there," he said. He recalled hearing rumor of the lights for at least 35 years.

"They used to mine over there," he added. "I think it was sulfur or something."

Cruse said he believes other factors have contributed to the legend of the lights throughout the year.

"I believe the Dover Lights are a combination of misidentification from people riding four-wheelers, hiking at night, spotlights and campfires," he said. "That, combined with the occasional people setting out hoaxes, I believe, is the majority of your Dover lights."'

Cruse, who along with the other members of the exploration group Nikki Bundang, Brandon St. Clair, James Fulmer, Ethan Lawson, Withers, Kevin Ramey and Corey Martin hopes to explore the mysteries of alleged Bigfoot sightings in the Boggy Creek area near Fouke and unexplained lights near Crossett next.

He said the possibility the Dover Lights are a result of unnatural phenomena is, in his mind, fully debunked.

"Everything can be explained," he reiterated. "It's just a matter of someone putting enough time and effort into it."

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