Jane Roberts was running a small tiller in a garden patch at her Medley Road home Thursday afternoon when her tiller struck what she first assumed was an old flagging stone.
“I’d run into flagging stones before,” Roberts said Friday. “I thought it was more of that, except it had a metallic clink to it.”
Roberts reached to pick up the object she’d dug up, and found herself holding an old-time hand grenade.
“I was truly amazed,” Roberts said. “… I looked at it, and my mouth dropped open.”
Roberts’ accidental discovery led to the Owensboro Police Department’s hazardous device unit retrieving the grenade and blowing it up in a hole. No one was injured.
How the grenade got to be there seems to stem back to a bit of Daviess County history Daviess County Sheriff Keith Cain remembers from his childhood.
“It was a military shooting range,” Cain said Friday. “I remember my dad told me it was utilized by the military in World War II.”
As a road deputy, Cain used to patrol the west end of the county and remembers seeing the remnants of the firing range.
“As early as the mid-1970s and ‘80s, the earthen structure was still there,” Cain said.
Daviess County Sheriff’s Deputy Duane Harper responded to the home. “When I told Duane what I was talking about, he told me that was very close to where the grenade was found,” Cain said.
Roberts said she didn’t see a pin in the grenade. “I felt relatively assured it wasn’t too dangerous.” She called her nephew, who called the sheriff’s office.
Harper took a picture and sent it to OPD, which dispatched the hazardous device unit and its robot. The robot retrieved the grenade and placed it in a hole, where it was blown up by the unit.
“It was inconclusive” as to whether the grenade still was explosive, said Officer Andrew Boggess, OPD’s public information officer. “So out of precaution, they disposed of it, but they were never able to determine if it was live or not.”
Roberts said, “My nephew said, ‘Why didn’t you just throw it into the woods?’ and I said, ‘because I’ll just run into it again.’ ”
Roberts said she wouldn’t be surprised if there were other grenades buried on the property.
“Before I finish (working) the garden, I’ll get my metal detector” and check for additional surprises, she said.
“I was only six inches underground,” she said. “I hit it with my little bitty steel tiller.”
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