Snoqualmie resident Becky Snider and her family got quite a surprise more than two weeks after returning from a trip from Pacific Beach on the Washington Coast to celebrate her son’s 11th birthday…. a surprise that could have had an explosive result.
Becky said her son loves to explore the beach and while poking around he found a few “lumps of stuff” – with sand and shells stuck them. She explained one of the lumps had a brass bit sticking out of it that looked like some sort of shell. She said, “We figured it was some sort of spent round and decided to take it home to ID later on.”
So the family put the “lumps” in a rain boot and transported them home to Snoqualmie, where they sat in their Autumn Ave garage, forgotten about for two weeks.
Then a few days ago, Becky said she saw a post on the NW Rockhounds Facebook group from someone trying to identify the same type of lumps they had found in the same beach area. There were lots of guesses as to what they could be, including old ammunition. So the Facebook poster said she called the Grays Harbor Police… who directed her to the Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad… who came out in a SWAT truck, collected her ‘lumps’ containing the ammo and exploded them down the beach.
After hearing this story, Becky decided she should report those sludge lumps sitting in her garage. She called Snoqualmie Police on Tuesday, February 26th – saying she had a hard time explaining to the dispatcher that she thought she might have live ammunition in her home – and Officer Robinson was dispatched to take a look.
Becky commented, “He walked up, took one look and told us ‘Well, I’m going to make some calls, because I have 10 fingers and I kind of like them all.'”
That kicked off an eventful day for the Snider family. Officer Robinson secured the ammunition lumps in her garage. Next a WSP Bomb Squad member contacted Becky to inform her he was contacting the military – since they were dealing with military property – to decide who would pick them up. A short time later the military contacted her, saying they were coming from Tacoma to get them ‘right away.’
While Becky was gone at a PTA meeting that evening, a U.S. Army Bomb Squad truck showed up on quiet Autumn Ave, techs suited up in full gear, put the ammunition into a case and took them away. X-ray pictures were taken which showed the ammunition inside the beach sludge to be fully intact – and live – 20mm anti-aircraft rounds.
As it turns out – the anti-aircraft ammo was very old. The area where they were discovered used to be home to a popular Grays Harbor County resort called the Pacific Beach Hotel, which the Navy took over in 1942 and turned into an anti-aircraft training center.
King 5 News also recently ran a story on February 24th saying the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office was warning of old, ‘high explosive’ ammunition being found in the area where Becky’s son made his discovery. The rounds were described 6-8 inches long and 20 millimeters wide. Because of their age, the sheriff’s office warned their stability was unknown.
For now, Becky said she’ll be baking cookies for police officers, jokingly adding, “Because that’s what I do, go to PTSA meetings, bake cookies, and you know, keep explosives in my garage.”