During the height of the smoke from Mendocino Lightning Complex fires, a Laytonville man had an encounter with an apelike creature while driving north of Willits on Highway 101 near Shimmins Ridge Road.
"This animal stepped onto the southbound lane near where the guardrail stops," says LoPinto. "It was very smoky and incredibly hot, at least 100 degrees but still daylight. It ran really fast, directly into the path of a small truck, which had pulled out to pass me, after the lanes had expanded from two lanes to four.
"The creature was completely black and looked all freaked out. I pointed at it so the other driver could see it and hit my brakes, hard. I didn't think I could stop in time and was sure I was going to hit it. Miraculously the passing truck missed the creature and sped out of sight.
"As the creature ran toward me, I saw it was least seven feet tall. The animal never slowed down as it ran on its hind legs like a man.
"I thought, 'it looks like a guy in a gorilla suit.' When it got to middle of the freeway, I could see it clearly. Its whole head was covered in black hair. I couldn't see any ears. As I was braking hard to make a panic stop the creature put its arms down and started running on four legs, bounding across the freeway. It had giant arms; they were very long and covered with fur.
"When my car fi