Top Ten Cryptozoology Deaths of 2011
by Loren Coleman, Cryptozoology A to Z.
It is that time of year when we gather our notes on the recently deceased people whose lives have been touched by cryptozoology and cryptids, and who have touched others, by extension.
The year of 2011 is one in which cryptozoology and hominology did not see any major research figures die. Nevertheless, all deaths are deeply experienced, and we pause to remember those who have passed away, with respect for them, their families, and for all they shared and created. Cryptozoology and cryptid fieldworkers, eyewitnesses, and popular culturists are recalled here for our annual goodbye and celebration of their lives.
(1 & 2) Margarita Gómez and Mateo Matamala
Margarita Gómez, 23, and Mateo Matamala, 26, both biology students at the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Columbia, were killed on January 11, 2011, by paramilitary drug cartel members. They were near a manatee study site, and appear to have been seeking new species and/or studying biodiversity in the area. Their bodies were found at the mouth of the Sinú River, a remote location known for manatee sightings.
Initial investigations indicate the involvement of Roberto Vargas Gutierrez, alias “Gavilan,” ringleader of the gang “Los Urabeños,” in their murder. Officials assume that the two were mistaken for members of an intelligence agency by the local gang. The dwarf manatee (Trichechus “pygmaeus” or mistakenly Trichechus “bernhardi”), a possible new species of manatee reported from one Amazonian tributary of the Aripuanã River, is of interest to South American manatee researchers. Obit.
(3) “Doc Sipes”
Oregon Bigfoot researcher Dr. M. Lloyd Sipe, 87, a veterinarian, died on March 4, 2011. His Bigfoot friends, like Joe Beelart and others in the Western Bigfoot Society of Portland, Oregon, called him “Doc Sipes,” adding the “s” to the end of his name. Obit. (A man who was an eyewitness to Pacific Northwest Bigfoot history as mostly his wife Lori took the famous “Memorial Day Footage,” Owen Pate also died in 2011, in a single car wreck. Details are sketchy to date, but Chad Arment passes along the news that early in December 2011, hominologist Alexandr Fedenyow, 46, of Russia has died.)
(4) Linda Scarberry
Linda Scarberry, on the left, pauses for a photo, in 2001, while being interviewed.
Linda Scarberry, 63, one of the earliest (November 15, 1966) and, as time would demonstrate, most famous eyewitnesses to Mothman, after a brief battle with cancer, died on Sunday morning, March 6, 2011, near her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. She died as “Linda S. Norman.” Obit. More info.
(5) Lynn Crabtree
James Lynn Crabtree, 60, of Fouke, Arkansas, died Wednesday, April 20, 2011, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Crabtree, the second eldest son of Smokey Crabtree, had one of the most influential sightings of the Fouke Monster when he was 14 years old, in 1965. The hairy biped creature was seen by Lynn when it was chasing some horses. Lynn fired three times with his shotgun before running back to the house in a panic. The movie, Legend of Boggy Creek served to propel the Crabtree stories to a national audience. He went by the name “Lynn” for most of his life. Obit.
(6) Leslie Greer
Retired Miller County Sheriff, Leslie Greer, 99, passed away on the same day, April 20th, as Lynn Crabtree. Greer was the first public official to make reference to an early Fouke Monster sighting told to him in 1946. When the Fouke Monster came to the media’s attention in 1971, Greer recalled these earlier sightings, dating back twenty years before Lynn Crabtree’s famous encounter. Obit. More.
(7) Nawang Gombu Sherpa
Nawang Gombu Sherpa, 79, died on Sunday, April 24, 2011. A Sherpa mountaineer who was the youngest on Sir Edmund Hillary’s climbing team that first scaled Mount Everest in 1953 died at his Indian home at the foot of the Himalayas. Nwang Gombu was the Sherpa leader of the 1963 American Expedition with Norman Dyhrenfurth (formerly of the Slick-Johnson Snowman Expedition of 1958). Jim Whittaker and Nawang Gombu Sherpa reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 1, 1963. Gombu would go on to be the first man to reach the summit of Everest twice. Whittaker’s memoirs noted that “Gombu’s people believe that if you see a yeti you will die in two days.” Obit.
(8) Dr. Condonminas
Georges Condominas, 90, was a French cultural anthropologist and friend of the late cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans. He died on Sunday, July 17, 2011, from a heart attack, in Paris. He is best known for his field studies of the Mnong people of Vietnam, and apparently gathered material on the “rock apes” or Người Rừng of Vietnam. Obit.
(9) Bud Hoffman
William H. “Bud” Hoffman, 81, a film editor for Universal Studios for most of his career, died November 2, 2011, in Midwest City, Oklahoma, after a long illness. Hoffman edited the classic cryptofiction film, Bigfoot (1970), which actually had some of the outdoor scenes shot in Bigfoot country, near Red Bluff in Northern California. Obit. (See below for more cryptocinema losses.)
(10) Sahar Dimus
In the above photograph, the first individual to the left is tracker/ranger Sahar Dimus, then Chris Clark, David Archer, Adam Davies, Richard Freeman, and local guide Donny. Photos: A. Davies.
Orang Pendek eyewitness and tracker Sahar Dimus, 42, died suddenly in his native Sumatra, at the foot of Mount Tuju, on November 14, 2011. Sahar accompanied several Western expeditions who traveled to Indonesia to search for the Orang Pendek. In 2001 and 2009, Sahar was with Adam Davies when they found the hairs, which were subsequently analyzed as being from an “unknown primate.” Sahar found Orang Pendek footprints in 2001 and handprints in 2011, and in 2009, he saw an Orang Pendek. Sahar had been featured in several documentaries, e.g. National Geographic’s Is It Real, History’s MonsterQuest and a new BBC documentary (all with Adam Davies), as well as in SyFy’s Destination Truth (with Josh Gates) and Beast Hunter (with Pat Spain). Obit. More info.
Other notables linked to cryptocinema who died in 2011, included actor Rob Blossom who had a Bigfoot line in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, actor Alberto de Mendoza who played the madman guru trying to control the Siberian Snowman in Horror Express (1972), and actor James Arness who was The Thing from Another World (1951) and the FBI agent in Them (1954). Bizarrely, former Playmate and actress Yvette Vicker was found mummified in 2011, a year after her death; she starred in Attack of the Leeches (1959). Tom Hennesy, who played the Gill Man in Revenge of the Creature (1955), passed away in 2011. Gualtiero Jacopetti, the director of Mondo Cane (1962) is now gone too.
Finally, we acknowledge our strong skepticism of the obituary that the US Federal government wrote, perhaps too prematurely, noting the Eastern Panther was officially declared gone, extinct, and nonexistent in the eastern USA.
This is said to be the last Eastern cougar to have existed in Pennsylvania; it was killed in Pennsylvania in 1874 by Thomas Anson. The felid was formerly part of the collection of Henry Shoemaker. Photo: State Museum of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2006.
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