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Man uses love of space to investigate UFO reports

Clevelander describes work as volunteer

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    Books from Tom Wertman's personal collection were part of his presentation at the library.

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    Tom Wertman delivers his lecture 'Out of this World: UFO Sightings and Investigations' at Rossford Public Library. He said he checks on about 80 reports a year.

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Tom-Wertman-Rossford-Public-Library

Tom Wertman delivers his lecture 'Out of this World: UFO Sightings and Investigations' at Rossford Public Library. He said he checks on about 80 reports a year.

The Blade/Sean Work
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Tom Wertman was fascinated when he was a youth by B-grade movies and books about outer space.

"I was one of those kids who was fascinated by science fiction," Mr. Wertman said. "It was just my nature. My major fascination: Can we go out into space?"

Now 57, Mr. Wertman channels his love of science into investigating reports of alleged UFO sightings for the Mutual UFO Network of Ohio and the Cleveland Ufology Project.

Recently, he's been on the library circuit, talking with community members about the volunteer work that he does for the two groups.

Last week, he addressed a crowd at the Rossford Public Library about UFOs.

"I'm not out to convince them either way [about the existence of UFOs]. All I do is present facts," Mr. Wertman said. "It's up to individuals to make their own opinions [about] what we talk about."

Each year, he investigates about 80 reports, primarily from central and southern Ohio, filed by residents who have seen something they cannot explain.

One was of strange lights weaving in the sky above the Cincinnati area on July 4 in 2010, and 2011.

Tom-Wertman-books

Books from Tom Wertman's personal collection were part of his presentation at the library.

The Blade/SEAN WORK
Enlarge | Buy This Image

The bewildered contact Mr. Wertman's agencies for answers. Mr. Wertman said that about 70 percent of the time, he's able to determine a logical explanation.

In Cincinnati, for instance, skydivers had pyrotechnics strapped on their ankles as they flew above a stadium, which explained the odd lights in the sky that seven people reported.

In another incident, a Toledo resident reported weird lights in the sky a year ago.

But by determining what direction the lights were moving and then studying the flight paths at the Toledo Express Airport, Mr. Wertman said the lights most likely were a plane or some type of activity at the airport.

Other times, things get more bizarre -- for instance, talking to people who swear they were abducted by aliens.

"Are they dreaming? Are they imagining things? Or is something happening to them?" said Mr. Wertman, who lives in the Cleveland suburbs and teaches math and computer programming at Kaplan Higher Education. "Did they have some experience you can't explain?"

Mr. Wertman's reports usually are completed within 90 days, and he contacts people to let them know what his findings are.

"Most of the people are open-minded," he said. "They just want to know what they saw."

Contact Gabrielle Russon at: grusson@theblade.com or 419-724-6026.

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