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Frights from the Field – Engineers on Site Trips!

10.31.22 by Kyle Haskett
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Fall weather is arriving and the leaves are changing color and that can only mean one thing: Halloween is around the corner! 


Maybe you love Halloween like my sister-in-law and decorate your house with multiple 12’ skeletons, a 10’ witch, skeleton horse-drawn hearse, and give out full size candy bars. Or maybe you dread the social pressure figuring out a current costume and attending the neighborhood party. But whether you love it or hate it, it’s undeniable that it’s spooky season.

The Halloween spirit made me wonder how many of us have had unexpected, work-related spooky encounters. Many of us here at Wallace are able to get out of the office once in a while to visit a site or project. While most are pretty uneventful, site trips can occasionally bring about mysterious or scary events.

My spookiest site trip is when Krista and I went to the state prison in McAlester, Oklahoma, to do a survey of the old rodeo arena. We entered through the old prison, which I felt had a very intense atmosphere. There was only one guard to escort us around, so when Krista and I had to split up to carry on with the survey, I went through a gated area by myself. After completing the survey of the area, I went back to the gate only to discover that the guard had locked it. I quickly realized that Krista and the guard were on the complete opposite side of the rodeo arena. A check of my cell phone meant I couldn’t call Krista because I didn’t have cell service. 

I knew yelling probably wasn’t a good idea; besides what would I yell in a prison that wouldn’t sound suspicious? 

“Help! I am trapped in here!” 

Or “I am locked in and I need out!” 

After about a ten-minute wait by the gate, Krista and the guard returned, and Krista and I were able to finish the rest of the survey without incident.

 A quick companywide email brought a gushing of creepy and spooky experiences. Read on below for some of the Frights of the Field…

From Adrian Martin…

My survey of an eagle enclosure was terrifying.  The enclosure is basically a bird cage about the size of a high school gymnasium, but more rectangular.  Having to take measurements from the inside of the enclosure, the head veterinarian showed me in and promptly turned back into the airlock vestibule and shut the door.  I was left to take measurements with six fully grown golden and bald eagles.  The male bald eagle took exception to my being there.  He repeatedly swooped down to hover within ten feet of me and scream before flying back to his perch.  BTW...adult male bald eagles are WAY bigger than you think they are!

From Heidi Wallace…

When I was an intern in 2015, Nick Mason and I were doing a site investigation at the Gilcrease Museum. He waddled a few yards into a large culvert to see what direction the pipe went. I heard this little scream come out, then a pause, and then he hollered out, "thought I saw a snake... it's just a stick... we're good."

Just the thought of a snake made him quickly rethink his choice to go in!

From Nick Mason…

Eddie and I saw some festive Halloween-themed water during a flow test. 

Opening sanitary manholes and being greeted by hundreds of cockroaches is not uncommon. GROSS!!

From Krista Looney…

I have an extreme talent for getting my clothes and shoes dirty whenever I’m on site, no matter what I’m doing (I mean, if you don’t walk away covered in cobwebs, dust, and debris, did you really even do a site investigation?), so I probably should have seen this coming. I was investigating a storage unit after a fire, and after poking around (safely) on site, I went back to the office to report my findings. The manager jumped back from the counter, looking like she’d seen a ghost. Turns out, I was covered head to toe in soot (including, somehow, my face). Boo!

From Bob Anderson…

I was doing an infrared scan of a building about 20 years ago. We had just started IR scanning every building so I was relatively new at it. Maybe 6-9 months of stores under my belt. I was scanning a building in Pennsylvania, if I remember correctly. I was coming up to the end of the third wall out of four. It was about 11:30 pm. Pitch black other than my flashlight. No wind, no lights. 

As I'm scanning the walls, I come up on a trailer that was in front of the building. It was tight up against the wall so I just scan around obstructions. As I am scanning, I'm looking at the screen, I can see a man standing in front of me. 

It startled me so much, there was a pickup nearby and I hid behind it. I was trying to figure out what I just saw. Then I realized (or so I thought) I was seeing a man inside the trailer. I immediately thought that someone was inside the trailer robbing it. 

At that time, I did not carry a cell phone, so I'm wondering how or what I'm going to do. So I decide to move around to the side of the trailer again and watch what he's doing. I turned off my flashlight and dimmed the screen on the IR camera so I wouldn't be seen but I'd be able to see him. I crept over to where I was and pointed the camera back at the trailer and saw him again. 

It appeared he was looking my direction, then I quickly figured out it was me. My body heat was being mirrored off the side of the trailer. It was a stainless trailer so the image was perfect as if someone was standing inside the trailer. Needless to say, it had my heart pounding and I'm sure I lost a year or two of my life because of it.   

From Brittany Johnson…

When I was being trained to scope, a former employee and I went to Atlanta for a vacant store that we had no drawings on. On the backside of the store, there was an exterior-exposed dock area. There was some graffiti on the walls and the satanic pentagram had been spray painted on the slab of that dock. We really didn't think much of it, as graffitti like this is nothing new for vacant buildings and continued on with our day. 

IR camera work is best done very early morning or at night. So late that evening, we returned to the store to run the IR camera around the exterior. When we had finished the front, we decided that we could just jump in the car and slowly drive the rest of it, as we were both pretty tired at that point. That would turn out to be a very good decision.

Getting to the backside of the store, we slowly crept along filming the IR along the way (was the old school camera kind). When we got to the exposed dock portion, the camera picked up two anomalies on top of the dock slab. We paused trying to figure out what was going on, as there was no exterior lighting at the back. After a moment, we then realized that these were no strange hot spots on the building, but two people laying dead-still on top of the symbol that had been painted there. They started to get up, clearly now noticing our presence. Needless to say, we hauled it out of there. 

From Evan Myers…

My most creepy thing on site would be going to Pawhuska for the Superintendent's House condition assessment.  It was a house that was built in the 1800’s and had a basement and cellar.  When I walked in, I had a feeling that someone had been in the house, and the owner had made reference to people being in there before who should not be.  I was alone and was a little creeped out, but when I went back a second time, there were stuffed animals placed all around on the inside of the property that were not there the first time.  Nothing like getting into an attic and crawlspace when you have a creepy feeling about it.

From Carrie Johnson…

We had an employee many years ago who was testing out our brand-new IR camera at dusk when they work best. While familiarizing himself with the camera and it’s setting, he was taking lots of photos without really paying attention to what was in frame. While scanning the wall to see if any grouted cells were visible, a cat had run into the frame and since it has body heat, it showed up very brightly on the IR camera, and he said he nearly jumped out of his skin.

If you enjoyed a few of our fun and spooky experiences on site, we are hiring and you can have a few of your own to share for next Halloween! 

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Kyle Haskett, PE


Kyle received both his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and Master of Science in Civil Engineering-Structural Emphasis from the University of Oklahoma. He is…

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