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Woman Dies in Premature Rapture

Netlore Archive: Arkansas woman is killed leaping through the sun roof of her car in a case of 'mistaken rapture.'

Description: Email joke / Satire
Circulating since: August 2001
Status: False

Example:
Email text contributed by Craig S., Aug. 20, 2001:

ARKANSAS CITY (AP) -- A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday after leaping through her moving car's sun roof during an incident best described as "a mistaken rapture" by dozens of eye witnesses. Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty-car pile up resulted from people trying to avoid hitting the woman who was apparently convinced that the rapture was occurring when she saw twelve people floating up into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she claimed was Jesus.

"She started screaming "He's back, He's back" and climbed right out of the sunroof and jumped off the roof of the car," said Everet Williams, husband of 28-year-old Georgann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene. "I was slowing down but she wouldn't wait till I stopped," Williams said. She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky," he went on to say.

"This is the strangest thing I've seen since I've been on the force,"said Paul Madison, first officer on the scene. Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was dressed up as Jesus and was on his way to a toga costume party when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blowup dolls filled with helium which floated up into the air.

Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who's been told by several of his friends that he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration, and said "Come back here," just as the Williams' car passed him.

Mrs. Williams was sure that it was Jesus lifting people up into the sky as they passed by him, according to her husband, who says his wife loved Jesus more than anything else.

When asked for comments about the twelve dolls, Jenkins replied "This is all just too weird for me. I never expected anything like this to happen."


Analysis: Yet more proof that Internet satire can backfire on the satirist. This piece was originally authored by Elroy Willis, whose intent, he swears, was purely humorous. He published it on his tongue-in-cheek "Religion in the News" website on August 2, 2001. Since then it has circulated far and wide, sans byline, via forwarded email.

Willis says he went out of his way to attribute the story to the nonexistent "EAP" news service so as not to deceive anyone, but as you can see in the above variant, at least one anonymous emailer has changed it to read "AP" (Associated Press) to lend it an air of authenticity. Judging from the quizzical mail I've received so far, some people truly aren't sure whether to believe it or not.

For future reference, most theologians are rather firmly convinced that if and when Jesus does return, he's not likely to be driving a pickup truck.


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Further reading:

Arkansas Woman Killed During Mistaken Rapture
The original satire by Elroy Willis


Last updated 05/19/11


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