In Arizona one man said he watched a bright white streak fall away from the passing shuttle. "What the heck is that?," said another man. "I don't know," said his friend. The tape reveals a shuttle in distress much earlier than previously believed.
On Saturday it was believed that Columbia's disintegration began hundreds of miles southeast of Lubbock county. But with news that the breakup began as early as California and the discovery of debris in Arizona, the possibility of Columbia's remnants being found in West Texas has substantially increased.
"You know, being 200,000 feet above us, and running the speed that they were running, there's a possibility that we could have some pieces around here," said Department of Public Safety Corporal John Gonzalez.
In addition to sending officers to Nacogdoches county to help in the recovery, Corporal Gonzalez has been fielding debris calls from Lubbock county. "We've probably had at least five reports of items that we've gone out to investigate," he said.
At the sheriff's department, the K-9 unit was told to be ready to help sniff out potentially dangerous chemicals. "He was actually put on alert, he travels all over the country," said Sheriff David Gutierrez.
So far, the reports of possible shuttle debris in Lubbock county have yielded nothing. But authorities are ready to investigate when called. "We encourage the public to look. Obviously if they see something that's out of the ordinary and not normally there, and it just sort of recently showed up, do call us," he said.