Bomb found in car along Hwy. 101
(The Daily Triplicate) CRESCENT CITY — The discovery of a pipe bomb closed part of U.S. Hwy. 101 for nearly seven hours over the weekend after law enforcement discovered the device in a man’s vehicle during a traffic stop.
Two people were arrested in connection with the incident, and the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office is still trying to determine the intended use of the bomb.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Sheriff’s Office Detective Ed Fleshman said, adding that his department expects to develop more information in the coming days. “We are still investigating the purpose and destination of the explosive device.”
On Sunday, California Highway Patrol stopped a vehicle for speeding in the northbound lane of Hwy. 101 just south of Wonder Stump Road. The driver, 24-year-old Samuel W. Hawken, of Crescent City, had a suspended license, which allowed the CHP to impound his vehicle.
While searching the vehicle, officers discovered what a CHP press release describes as an “electronically activated pipe bomb” behind the driver’s seat.
“My guys said it was about 6 inches long and basically (made of) galvanized pipe, capped at both ends with wire coming off of it,” Crescent City CHP Sgt. Del Gray said, adding that there was also a blast cap with the device.
Upon finding the explosive, officers immediately evacuated the area, creating a safe-zone of 300 feet, Gray said, closing off Hwy. 101 from Elk Valley Road to Kind Valley Cross Road, until the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad could detonate the device. The roadway reopened for traffic around 11:30 p.m. Sunday night, almost seven hours after being closed.
California Highway Patrol arrested both Hawken and his passenger, 27-year-old Billie Dean Cochran, a Crescent City resident who is on parole in California and is also an escapee from the Washington Department of Corrections’ community custody in Snohomish County.
Cochran was apprehended on charges of providing a false name to a peace officer, a misdemeanor, while Hawken was arrested on charges of driving with a suspended license and possession of a destructive device, a felony.
Detective Fleshman said there is a segment of the Del Norte County’s population that makes homemade explosives for recreation, such as Fourth of July celebrations.
“Unfortunately, explosives are not that difficult to make … you don’t have to be a rocket scientist, literally, to make one,” Fleshman said, adding that making them is not only dangerous, but also illegal.
“The range of illegal endeavors could be from malicious mischief to homicide,” he said. “This bomb was intercepted long before its intended target.”
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