St. Petersburg Beach, FL -- There were some frightening moments Thursday morning on St. Petersburg Beach when a treasure hunter sweeping the area with a metal detector got far more than he bargained for: hand grenade.
It happened at about 10 a.m. as the man was sweeping the sandy bottom in waist-high water behind the Sirata Beach Resort
It turns out it was an old military grenade, and had probably been there for quite some time. Inert, say sheriff's deputies.
But the men who found it had no way of knowing that when they pulled it out of the water.
"This definitely makes for the most interesting day of metal detecting, yeah," said Cliff Vogan, 61.
Vogan has been treasure hunting along Bay area beaches for about five years now, and has found some odd things before including a bicycle, even a fire extinguisher, he says.
But Thursday it was a grenade. The pin still in it, dangling from the end of his sand scoop.
"The fact that it didn't blow up on me when I picked it up with the scoop I felt pretty comfortable with it," said Vogan.
Vogan's friend and fellow treasure hunter, Chris, was standing just a feet away. Not quite so confident, seeing what his buddy had just dug up.
"At one point he was pretty much speechless and I saw a hand grenade hanging off the end of his scoop. I said 'Oh My God, you're kidding me," said Chris.
Vogan delicately walked the grenade up the sand, placing it on a trash bin. Authorities then arrived and ordered beach visitors like Nancy Richard to clear out as a precaution.
"You would never ever think of anything like that, but hey, things happen I guess," said Richard.
About two and a half hours later, members of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office bomb squad casually picked up the device, taking it to be X-rayed. They'll try to determine how it got there. One possibility is that it's an inert relic from old military exercises in this area.
"It's been in the water for a while so it's got some deterioration on it. So it's very hard to say," said Pinellas Deputy Kelly Bush.
A short time later, the beach was reopened.
Vogan and Chris were on their way back home, likely likely to be right back at it tomorrow, they say.
Although lesson learned. Sort of.
"If I find another hand grenade," Vogan said laughing, "I'm going to tell somebody and run so I'm not on the news."