An Alameda engineer brings the East Bay’s afterlife into focus.
Photos courtesy of Sommer Carter
When Sommer Carter moved to Alameda—a city dotted with cool old buildings—she was surprised that no paranormal research group existed. So she founded Alameda Paranormal Researchers, an organization that investigates places that are rumored to be haunted to explore the existence of any supernatural beings.
Name: Sommer Carter
Job: Engineer by day, ghost hunter by night.
Carter says she saw her first ghost—a woman dressed in 1800s garb—at 16, in an abandoned Victorian museum. “It was shocking. I thought I was hallucinating,” she says. She’s been fascinated with the paranormal ever since.
Learning the Ropes
Carter reads extensively, including books on quantum theory and physics, and works written by Hans Holzer, a “messiah” to the paranormal community. “I take more of a scientific approach,” she says.
Carter visits historic places around the world, from an abandoned mental asylum in Australia, where she says a camera rose from the ground, to a creepy basement of a Livermore boutique, where she saw the spirit of an old miner. Carter’s organization is also the official paranormal research group of the USS Hornet in Alameda.
Tools of the Trade
Carter uses DSLR, infrared, and ultraviolet light cameras; audio-recording devices; amplified microphones; vibration detectors; and devices to measure electromagnetic energy. “But our number-one tool is our senses,” she says.
Playing by the Rules
“Basic investigator rules” include no whispering while trying to collect audio evidence. The team also doesn’t get aggressive with spirits like the ghost hunters on TV. “You want to be respectful in case they’re standing in front of you,” she says.
Just Another Day at the Office
Carter says she sees shadow people—darker and less defined than your typical ghost—at the USS Hornet a few times a month. “We’ll be sitting there trying to investigate, and a person will just walk by,” she says.
People always want to know the scariest thing Carter has encountered (a car wheel rim rising off the ground). “But that usually doesn’t happen. Most of the time, ghost hunting is very boring, and you’re just observing,” she says. For info, visit alamedaparanormal.com.