Oviedo Ghost Lights

Map showing the area of the Oviedo Lights sightings, along Snow Hill Road north of Chuluota

The “Oviedo Lights” is one of the most enduring ghost stories in Seminole County. Bored local youngsters (especially in the county’s more rural period) for decades have ventured to the secluded wetlands north of Chuluota. There Snow Hill Road curves north toward Geneva, passing over the Econlockhatchee River bridge and through the historically black community of Snow Hill.

Some say the sightings began in the 1940s, but the earliest documented cases started in the mid sixties. Legend says starting around midnight, at unpredictable intervals and especially in the winter months, a light zooms down the road.

It heads south from Snow Hill and toward the Econ River bridge. From a distance it resembles an oncoming car, but as it approaches witnesses say its light is as bright as a freight train and never separates into two lights as would car headlights. Its tint takes on a discernably bluish hue as it starts to wobble slightly and then dissappears promptly as it crosses the bridge, never making a sound.

Central Florida Future (UCF) newspaper from October 6, 1969 reportedly shows the ghost light.

The earliest published reports were made in the newspaper of the Florida Technological University (which would become the University of Central Florida) in a series of articles starting In October 1969. The reporters visited the scene, where they supposedly photographed the light. They interviewed several people including witnesses (invariably teenagers), skeptics, and professors. No true conclusion was ever reached, and the photo was said by some to be a fraud.

There are many folk stores either about the origin:

  • During a cub scout camping trip, a boy reportedly separated from his troop. He disappeared into the wilderness with his lantern and was never seen again. This legend says the light is his ghost still searching for his friends.
  • A teenager darting across the road, playing “chicken,” killed by an oncoming car.
  • Two young lovers ran out of gas on the stretch. The boyfriend left to get gas, leaving his girlfriend waiting all night. She found him the next morning clawed to death by perpetrator unknown.
  • Two boys wrecked their car and drowned in the waters beneath the bridge.

Other stories warn about interactions with the light:

  • A young couple discovered along the road one morning. The girl unconscious inside the vehicle, while her boyfriend’s head was burned off and mounted as a hood ornament on the car.
  • A teenage girl saw the light and ran back for cover in her car. She had burns all down her back from the light’s heat.
  • A young girl was driving along the road and became blinded by the lights intensity. She crashed into a tree and died.

No one has been able to corroborate any of these stories, despite many investigations by journalists and ghost hunters over the years. The legend has been written off by many as over active imaginations, total fabrication, stories of teenagers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or scientifically as “swamp gas.”

However, assuming the sightings are really of 1960s origin (and not two decades older, as some claim), there is one story that can be validated.

Norbert Georg Hyman

Norbert Georg Hyman, a 17-year-old student at Orlando Junior College, was killed along Snow Hill Road on the night of July 16, 1963. That night Hyman went with four friends to the Econ River Bridge to shoot off fireworks. This compansions were fellow Oviedo High School alumni from Oviedo and Chuluota: Roger Smithson, John B. Garvin, Mark L. Garvin, and Richard Eric Pearson.

They turned off on to a dirt road and lit the explosives. Around 11 PM the crew decided to head back home. Pearson ran ahead to retrieve the car located down the dirt path, while the four others walked. He turned off the dirt road and drove about 525 feet down Snow Hill Road with his lights off through the pitch black wilderness, not seeing his friends.

Smithson and the Garvin brothers were able to jump out of the way to safety, but Hyman was not so lucky. 20-year-old Pearson reportedly turned his lights on around the time of the collission, finding his friend with fatal injuries to his head and chest.

They loaded their mortally wounded friend into the vehicle and headed back to town. Pearson made two stops to drop off the other passengers, before taking Hyman to Winter Park Hospital. Hyman was pronounced dead on arrival.

Pearson was the son of a prominent Oviedo family, who moved to the area in 1948. His mother served on many boards including PTA president. His father was an Army vetran, worked at Duda & Sons, and was elected to the city council later that decade. Richard Eric Pearson was charged with manslaughter; however, the charges were later dropped. He attended the University of Florida, worked for the Martin Company, and served in the Army, married in 1965, and later moved to Georgia.

Norbert Hyman is buried in the Oviedo Cemetery. His gravestone bears a photo of the boyish-looking young man, mowed down by a friend far too young.

If you believe the stories of the lights that haunt Snow Hill Road, near the Econ River bridge, are real and of supernatural origin… is this the source? Are the tales fabricated by drunken teens trying to scare each other? Or is there some other explanation?


3 responses to “Oviedo Ghost Lights”

  1. Norbert Georg Hyman is my brother. He came with me and my mother from Germany in 1958. Just graduated 36 days before from Oviedo High School when he died in the unfortunate accident. It broke our hearts and my mom never got over this loss. I was able to marry a man named Norbert and had my last child with him he is also named Norbert. Now I have a grandson his middle name is Norbert. I also have my oldest son who was born the year after my brother died buried at the Oviedo Cemetery. I have my plot there and God willing I will be there also along with my mom and dad that brought us to America, my aunt Fanny who came over in 1960. I miss my brother, mom who I was able to bury on Norbert’s birthday September 21, 1996, and son Christopher Smithson every day of my life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *