CLINTON — The Wilcox family was visiting relatives in Clinton on a vacation from Virginia on Monday afternoon, when two young siblings discovered what appeared to be a hand grenade that apparently had washed up on the shoreline.

Steve Wilcox said the family was visiting the children’s uncle and aunt, Carl and Audrey Baur, and simply wanted to take a stroll by the riverside.

“We just came to let the kids walk around by the river, let them play… and that’s when he found it.”

Six-year-old Allen Wilcox and his 11-year-old sister Theresa were walking along the shore just behind the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre at approximately 1:45 p.m. Monday when the two noticed something that looked like a rock.

“I picked it up first and I gave it to my brother. He said, ‘Dad, dad, look what we found,” Theresa said.

“It was down by the water. We were playing and I found it,” Allen said. “It could have blown up.”

Steve Wilcox said he was shocked by what the kids found. Because he is a former Army soldier, he recognized the danger right away.

“He brought it up and handed me a grenade and I was like, ‘Oh my God,” said Wilcox. “I walked up and put it in the flower bed over there and tried to keep people away from it.”

The children’s aunt, Audrey Baur, immediately called 911. The first officer to arrive on the scene confirmed it was a grenade.

Riverview Drive then was blocked off to vehicular traffic from Fifth Avenue South to Sixth Avenue North. All pedestrians within close proximity of the showboat were evacuated from the area, as well as many people swimming at Riverview Pool.

One bystander, 13-year-old Tyler Reuter, said he and a friend, 9-year-old Austin Peters, were fishing when they were evacuated from the area.

“They told us to leave right away because they found a bomb,” Reuter said.

The Mississippi Belle II riverboat casino was taking its scheduled 1 to 3 p.m. cruise and was not allowed to dock until the situation was clear. The U.S. Coast Guard also was notified of the situation.

The Quad-City Bomb Squad of the Davenport Police Department responded along with the State Fire Marshal Bomb Squad and the device was removed from the area for disposal. The Clinton Police Department was assisted by the Clinton Fire Department, the State Fire Marshal Bomb Squad, the Division of Criminal Investigations and the National Guard.

A former War veteran and combat engineer trained in the use of explosives, who wished to remain unidentified, said finding a grenade can be very dangerous.

“The problem with a grenade is not knowing if it’s live, how old it is or where it came from,” he said. He added that explosives can become unstable over time and when exposed to deteriorating conditions such as being immersed in water.

“In theory, it could have gone off when they picked it up,” the veteran said. He said someone likely illegally possessed the grenade as a souvenir and it could have been live or inert. He said it may be turned over to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to investigate.

A representative of the Scott County Sheriff’s Department said the grenade found Monday was an inert souvenir and was not live, or able to explode.

As of press time today, officials still were trying to determine where the grenade came from.

Steve Wilcox said he’s very happy the grenade didn’t go off on the riverfront and that no one was hurt.

“I feel very fortunate, because if it would have went off, I would have lost both of them,” he said.

The incident remains under investigation by the CPD and the State Fire Marshal’s office. The CPD advises anyone who comes in contact with any device that appears to be explosive in nature should not touch the object and immediately call local law enforcement.

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