Plenty of people find interesting little trinkets and treasure alongside roadways, but what makes Mark Wendell’s story of interest is that his find had the potential to kill him.
Back in December Wendell was driving along Daubenberger Road when he noticed something that looked like a black ball poking out of the dirt. He stopped to investigate and discovered what appeared to be an old cannonball.
“At the time I really had no idea what it was,” Wendell said. “I just put it in truck and drove home.”
The cannonball rattled and rolled from side to side in the back of the truck, so he stopped and put it in the front seat next to him. Once at home he went searching online to discover what exactly he had found and discovered that it was a cannonball from the 19th century. Wendell also discovered during his online search that the cannonball had the potential to explode.
“I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I handed this to my wife!’” Wendell recounted.
Wendell contacted the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and the department’s bomb squad responded to his residence in the 1000 block of Maple Street.
The bomb squad took an x-ray of the cannonball and determined it would be prudent to take it off-site and destroy it.
“The cannonball had an access hole that was sealed shut. Not knowing what was inside and taking safety precautions, we had to render the cannonball safe,” said Lt. Ed Ridenour, the commander of the bomb team wrote in an email. “The cannonball was rendered safe by countercharge. After the cannonball was countercharged we were able to determine that it did not contain energetic material.
“Anytime in dealing with ordinance that is no longer in the hands of the military we are concerned about modifications, especially when someone is unable to provide the history of the object,” Ridenour said.
Wendell says he was pretty astonished by the turn of events from his roadside find.
“I still shake my head when I think about it, especially that I put it in the front seat next to me.”