Daviess County native Janie Roberts was tending her backyard garden with her grandson and great-nephew last week when she found something that led the Owensboro bomb unit to her house.
Roberts’ tiller struck something in the ground that made a “clink” sound, and soon she was holding an old-time hand grenade that was possibly left behind from WWII.
“I was just tilling in my garden,” she said. “It was close to the top of the soil, so I didn’t have to dig very deep to find it. I picked it up in my hands, looked at it closely for a little bit. I was amazed.”
Roberts, who lives on Medley Road in Bon Harbor Hills, said her property was used during WWII as some kind of a military range, according to some local historians.
Daviess County Sheriff’s Deputy Duane Harper responded to the incident and eventually, the Owensboro Police Department’s Hazardous Device Unit showed up.
“Never in my (29-year) career have I ever had to deal with a hand grenade,” Harper said. “Especially where a lady was tilling in her yard six inches underneath the dirt and the tiller throws it out.”
Harper said one of the guys from the bomb unit dug a hole down the hill on the 40-acre property. A robot carried the grenade to the hole, and they used a charging device to detonate it.
The ordeal took about three hours from the time the Hazardous Device Unit arrived to detonation.
“I’m very happy with the results, the way it ended. No one was hurt,” Harper said.
Roberts said the family wasn’t allowed to see the detonation because of the risk of getting hit by shrapnel.
“From the sound of it, it was loud,” Roberts said. “It was loud enough that a business (less than a mile away) called the police department and said they heard an explosion.”
She said there could be more grenades on her property and plans to visit the Owensboro National Guard Armory to do some research once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
“Thank God we lived through it,” Roberts said. “I intend to walk out on my property and take my metal detector and just have a little fun.”