Grenade found, disaster averted

Early Edition: Paul Wyatt was cleaning out a van when he came across a grenade. Fortunately, he played it safe and called authorities.

Published March 1, 2007

SPRING HILL — If you’ve got a junker you want off your property, Paul Wyatt will take it away for free and sell it for scrap.

On Thursday, Wyatt was cleaning out a van he’d bought the other day, getting ready to take it to the scrap yard, when he came across a grenade. He was standing in his driveway at 12075 Fulmar Road, a few miles north of Spring Hill.

He picked up the grenade and examined it. He read the serial number. He noticed the pin.

“When it didn’t say ‘Made in China,’ I set it on the ground,” Wyatt recalled.

Then the 37-year-old Wyatt called his older brother who told him to call the authorities. That was about 8:30 a.m.

Five hours later, after the Hernando Sheriff’s Office had cordoned off the dirt road, and the Citrus Sheriff’s Office had sent in its bomb squad, Wyatt found out that he was right to be careful.

“That was the real deal, buddy,” Hernando Sgt. Clayton Miller told him. “It looks like it was a Vietnam or World War II era grenade.”

The Citrus bomb squad spirited the grenade out of the county and was set to destroy it this afternoon. Hernando investigators are in the process of finding out where the bomb came from.

Meanwhile, Wyatt shook his head at the disaster averted.

“Another hour and that van was going to be in the crusher,” he said. “That wouldn’t have been good.”

But even as the caution tape was cut down and the crowd of emergency workers dispersed, there was still an urgency in the air.

It was getting on 1:30 p.m. and Wyatt’s wife would be home any moment.

He still hadn’t told her.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114