While 2012 was not lacking for important stories related to such topics as politics, education and business, it also generated its share of unusual news in Franklin County. Here are my top three picks:
No. 1: Explosive Move
The humdrum chores of packing for a move became a little more explosive May 15 for one rural Ottawa resident.
“It looked like a hand grenade you would see in the movies,” a woman told Franklin County Sheriff’s officers about her discovery.
Sheriff’s officers, who responded to the woman’s rental home, determined the item was indeed a real hand grenade, Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy with the sheriff’s office, said.
Fredricks did not identify the woman but said she was packing up her belongings to move out of a rental property, located on the eastern outskirts of Ottawa, when she found the explosive device inside a box in a closet. The rental home was located across from the Wal-Mart Logistics distribution center in the 3200 block of K-68.
A bomb squad from the Olathe Fire Department was called in to remove the grenade.
How the grenade came to be in the home still is a mystery, Fredricks said.
“The woman did not know how the grenade got there,” Fredricks said at the time. “The investigation is pointing toward the woman’s former boyfriend, because the box was with some stuff he had left in the home. He’s been out of the home for a couple of months. We’ll also be talking with the owner of the property.”
No. 2: River Run
A 30-year-old rural Ottawa woman jumped into the Marais des Cygnes River to avoid Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies Aug. 24, but her efforts to elude officers proved all wet.
Sheriff’s deputies were called to a reported domestic disturbance about 8:20 p.m. in the 3100 block of Iowa Road, Fredricks, with the sheriff’s office, said. While officers found the domestic dispute report was unfounded when they arrived at a cabin in the Kiefer’s Dam area on the banks of the Marais des Cygnes, Fredricks said, deputies were confronted with an uncooperative woman. When deputies started to question her, she fled.
“She ran and jumped in the river,” Fredricks said. “Officers said she smelled of alcohol, and we believe alcohol was a contributing factor [to her behavior].”
Deputies tried to coax the woman from the river to no avail.
“They maintained voice contact with her, but she was taunting them and would not come back [to shore],” Fredricks said.
The Ottawa Fire Department’s water rescue team was called to the scene at 10:08 p.m., but the firefighters did not have to deploy their boat, Jeff Carner, Ottawa fire chief, said.
The woman eventually swam back to shore, where she was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on suspicion of obstruction of the legal process.
No. 3: Wrong side of tracks
A rusty Ford pickup driven by a 45-year-old Parker man got stuck about noon May 29 at an unauthorized railroad crossing off Vermont Road, when it attempted to turn around at a private drive. High-centered and desperate, the driver bailed out of the truck and headed down the tracks for help.
That’s when a Union Pacific freight train came roaring through and took the man’s truck for a ride about 600 feet down the line before engine No. 5591 came to rest with the tangled truck for a hood ornament.
The man told Franklin County Sheriff’s officers and Union Pacific police he waved his arms, trying to get the engineer’s attention to stop the train.
“As a railroad engineer told me, if they see a person waving their arms, it’s too late,” Fredricks, with the sheriff’s office, said.
Sheriff’s officers issued the man a notice to appear in court for criminal trespassing, because the truck was attempting an illegal crossing on Union Pacific property. The man also was cited for no proof of insurance and no license plate.
Doug Carder is senior writer for The Herald. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org