- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

From combined dispatches

A key crossing point on the U.S.-Canadian border was closed for an hour yesterday after Canadian customs officials said they found a hand grenade in a American woman’s car.

The crossing at Blaine, Wash., was shut down after Canadian authorities found the grenade in the glove compartment of a car driven by the wife of a U.S. soldier apparently stationed at Fort Lewis, south of Tacoma, officials said.

The driver, a 28-year-old woman from Houston, was taken into custody but released after interviewers determined she hadn’t known the grenade was in the car, Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman Tim Shields said.

“According to her, she was intending to drive toward Vancouver, Wash., not Vancouver, British Columbia,” Mr. Shields said. Vancouver, Wash., is on the state line with Oregon, some 250 miles south of the Canadian city.

“She was apparently new to the area,” he said.

The woman, whom authorities did not name, realized her mistake only as she arrived at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine, and she had no choice but to drive through Canadian customs. An officer searched the car, which is registered to her, and found the grenade, he said.

She claimed to have no idea the weapon was there and “appeared to be quite traumatized,” Mr. Shields said.

No charges were expected against the woman, who was returned to the United States yesterday afternoon, said Canadian customs spokeswoman Paula Shore.

Each year, about 8 million vehicles cross the border there at the north end of Interstate 5

A bomb squad was called to remove the grenade, officials said, while the area was evacuated and traffic in both directions was stopped from 1 to 2 p.m. PST. Traffic was rerouted to the truck crossing on Pacific Highway, less than a mile to the east.

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