"Ghostly Sheila" One Spooky Lady
By James Donahue
Among my stack of news clippings is a strange story
about a ghostly image of a woman dressed in black that haunts a UK highway near Havenside. The ghost has been an old legend
in the area. The locals have named it "Ghostly Sheila."
In my years of driving I have shared with other motorists
that frightening unexpected vision in the headlights of a person in black, walking close to the edge of the highway. When
semi-blinded by the lights of oncoming traffic, such images come too late to compensate if you are traveling at normal highway
speeds. There is always a shudder when considering the possibility of accidentally striking and killing such a person. And
when I read or write about such mishaps, I find myself thinking that old adage: "There but by the grace of God, go I."
Imagine, then, the fright Ghostly Sheila can be when
motorists come upon her in the dark hours of the night. This ghost is first seen standing in the middle of the road.
As one motorist recently told a reporter for a UK
newspaper: "She was just standing there and looked frightening with her long black hair hanging on her shoulders and her arms
outstretched, almost beckoning for us to stop."
Then as the driver's car got closer, the image stepped
into the path of the car as she looked straight at them with her "wild, glowing, almost spooky eyes."
Almost spooky? In my book an apparition like that
with wild, glowing eyes IS spooky. And to have it stop into the path of your moving car, and there is no sound or sense of
impact when you appear to be striking it, would be even more terrifying. A person could have heart failure going through an
experience like that.
The woman telling this story says she was hysterical
and screaming. She said her husband, who was driving, swerved to miss the apparition and it appeared that she may have "jumped
out of the way." That was probably the best way she could describe not having struck this mysterious human image.
She said they stopped the car and looked back, but
the mystery woman had disappeared.
"My hair was literally standing on end," she said.
The local myth is that Ghostly Sheila is a spirit
that roams on Higginson Highway and often is observed standing in the middle of the road pleading for motorists to stop. Sometimes
she his hitch hiking.
One story is told about a Chatsworth gentleman who
stopped to give this spirit a ride, thinking she was a living person. In the process, since it was a cold night, he loaned
the woman his jacket and forgot to take it back when he dropped her off at her home. The next day when he attempted to return
to the house to get his jacket, the occupant of the house told him that the woman he picked up had died many years earlier.
As the story is told, he went to the cemetery to verify the story and found his jacket lying on her tombstone.
But then, that is urban legend. Is it true?