Debbie Payne, 55, said she found the approximately two-pound, 9-inch Canon camera lens outside of her home on Friday, Sept. 2, after hearing a loud crash that shook the two-story house, left a hole in her roof and sliced through two window screens.
She said the noise was loud enough to startle her next-door neighbor, who quickly spotted a piece of the camera lens next to a truck parked in his driveway.
After reviewing Payne's mailed-in police report on Wednesday, officers are now tracking the lens' serial number and working with the Petaluma Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine whether the part may have fallen from a plane.
Payne said she didn't see any aircraft near her home at the time of the incident.
The longtime Petaluma resident said she hopes to recoup the $1,000 insurance deductible she paid to fix the damage to her roof and screens, which contactors estimated would cost about $4,500 to repair.
But mostly, Payne said, she's grateful the lens didn't cause further harm -- especially since she lives about 200 feet from an elementary school.
"It would have killed someone, had there been someone underneath the lens," she said.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said that while he's never heard of a camera lens falling from an aircraft, objects such as plane parts and ice chunks do sometimes fall during flights, though rarely.
"This is an unusual occurrence -- even proving this came from an aircraft could be difficult," he said.