Grenade found in waters off St. Pete Beach is no threat (w/video)

A grenade corroded with barnacles sits on a trash receptacle Thursday on St. Pete Beach.
A grenade corroded with barnacles sits on a trash receptacle Thursday on St. Pete Beach.
Published Oct. 8, 2014

ST. PETE BEACH — It had been a day of can pull tabs and bottle caps, hardly the kind of treasure Cliff Vogan seeks when he brings his metal detector to the beach.

Empty-handed, he was up to his waist in the Gulf of Mexico when his machine pinged. Vogan, recounting the moment, said he reached into the sand and brought up a curious hunk of metal. He knew right away it was a hand grenade.

"I just kind of froze for an instant," said Vogan, 61, of New Port Richey. He spotted the pin still in the explosive and called a friend over.

Calmly, Vogan said, they brought the grenade to the corner of a trash barrel on the beach near the Sirata Beach Resort. Then they called police.

"The fact that it didn't blow up on me when I dug it up with the scoop, I felt pretty comfortable with it," Vogan said.

Pinellas sheriff's deputies blocked off a wide swath of sand around the grenade, and summoned a bomb squad. Within about two hours, shortly after noon, authorities had secured the device and reopened the beach.

The grenade was corroded with barnacles latched to its round shell. Authorities planned to X-ray it before deciding on a next step, like detonation.

Despite the commotion, the grenade barely caused a stir.

"If something's going to happen, it's going to happen," said Phil Crouse, 60, in town from Pittsburgh for work and vacation. "A plane could drop out of the sky right now."

Vogan hung around until the bomb squad told him the grenade was a dud. Vogan said he has heard of avid metal detectives like himself — he goes five to seven times a week — finding grenades on the beaches of Okinawa, Japan. The weirdest discoveries he has made were a fire extinguisher and a bicycle.

Then he had to scurry from the beach to the parking lot, the time in his meter was running out.

His only treasure was the story.