After five or so years of using her metal detector, Hope Zahornacky had her most exciting find yet Monday: a hand grenade.
Zahornacky, who was born and raised in Beaufort, said she has found some neat trinkets before: an old military medal, a cross, some Civil War-era bullets. It’s not about finding things to sell, she said, “it’s about the history.”
A little before 2 p.m. on Monday, she was bored and started to sweep the detector across her North Street backyard when — to her surprise as well as that of neighbors and family members — she found herself holding the unearthed grenade.
“It looked very old,” she said. “I was a little scared, a little nervous ... but my curiosity got the best of me.”
At first she set it down on the ground, backed up and called for some second and third opinions on the new find, she said. Everyone agreed it was a grenade. The only question was whether it was still active.
Zahornacky couldn’t stay away and went in for another look. She moved the device to the top of a garbage can where she could get a better look at it, she said. It was heavy. She and her family took photos and eventually decided the police would need to be notified.
A portion of the street was blocked off for about two hours, and neighbors in 10 nearby homes were alerted and chose to evacuate, Beaufort Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Hope Able said Tuesday morning. The call to police from Zahornacky came in shortly after 2:30 p.m., and an all clear was declared by about 4:30 p.m.
“We were lucky,” Zahornacky said. “It could have gone off; it could have been really bad.”
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Explosive Ordnance Disposal was called in by police and “took possession of the inert grenade,” Able said.
Eight phone calls to MCAS Beaufort Public Affairs Office and three calls to EOD seeking comment went unanswered Tuesday.