During the height of the smoke from Mendocino Lightning Complex fires, a Laytonville man had an encounter with an apelike creature while driving north of Willits on Highway 101 near Shimmins Ridge Road.
“This animal stepped onto the southbound lane near where the guardrail stops,” says LoPinto. “It was very smoky and incredibly hot, at least 100 degrees but still daylight. It ran really fast, directly into the path of a small truck, which had pulled out to pass me, after the lanes had expanded from two lanes to four.
“The creature was completely black and looked all freaked out. I pointed at it so the other driver could see it and hit my brakes, hard. I didn”t think I could stop in time and was sure I was going to hit it. Miraculously the passing truck missed the creature and sped out of sight.
“As the creature ran toward me, I saw it was least seven feet tall. The animal never slowed down as it ran on its hind legs like a man.
“I thought, ”it looks like a guy in a gorilla suit.” When it got to middle of the freeway, I could see it clearly. Its whole head was covered in black hair. I couldn”t see any ears. As I was braking hard to make a panic stop the creature put its arms down and started running on four legs, bounding across the freeway. It had giant arms; they were very long and covered with fur.
“When my car finally stopped, I looked out the windshield and it stopped about 25 feet in front of me at the edge of the road. It was at eye level with me as I sat in the car.
“I had no idea what it was. It was covered with hair down to the ground. I looked at its face and it was completely flat without a nose. It turned his whole body toward me-its neck was stiff. We made eye contact. Its face was yellow or gold like a ripe banana. It had holes for its nostrils and a smooth and shiny forehead with ridges instead of eyebrows. It had a simian face.
“I saw a red glow coming back from its eyes; it may have been a reflection from my headlights. Its mouth was closed and it had thin lips, it didn”t show any teeth and made no sound, at all. Then it turned and leapt down into the ditch and up the hillside. I was freaked out.”
At first, Chris LoPinto had no idea what he had seen; he thought it might have been an escaped zoo or circus animal. He called the Department of Fish and Game biologist and found there were no apelike animals native to North America and that no such creature had been reported lost in the area. LoPinto filed an incident report with them. LoPinto also filed a police report with the Mendocino County Sheriff”s Department.