2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 28 Nov 2003 20:25:29 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] World War II shell sets off $8M lawsuit
World War II shell sets off $8M lawsuit
By Rob Johnson
White County boy lost hand in explosion
November 28. 2003

Sixty years ago, the U.S. Army was lobbing artillery shells into the
Tennessee wilderness. Novice gunners, destined for the European
battlefronts, were learning to demolish German strongholds and aircraft
by shooting up a remote corner of Van Buren County.

By the end of World War II, the U.S. government no longer needed to
lease the Tennessee practice range. In 1946, the Spencer Artillery Range
reverted to private use. Five government cleanups later, the range still
yields some dangerous souvenirs.

Ask the Owens family of White County.

Henry Owens was 9 when he found a 37mm shell while traipsing through the
old artillery range, and he took the vintage shell home with him,
federal court records show. The child handled it and played with it for
more than a year and a half. On July 7, 2001, the shell exploded and
took off the boy's left hand.

The family is suing the government and the private landowner for $8
million. Each side blames the other for circumstances that caused the
boy to lose a hand and half of his forearm. The court case takes place
as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has launched a lengthy series of
hearings and public education programs designed to alert citizens about
the dangers lurking in Van Buren forests, in what the acronym-embracing
U.S. government refers to as a FUDS, a formerly used defense site.

The government has generated fliers, newsletters and meeting schedules
to alert people to the forces, natural and manmade, that expose them to
undiscovered ordnance in the woods. Among those cited by the Corps are
erosion, ''frost heave,'' timber farming, land clearing and

Five times the government has tried to eradicate the old shells and
explosives in the Spencer range, but it is tough to find every one. The
Corps has even gone into the schools, where, along with the usual safety
tips about being careful with fire and staying away from strangers, some
pupils have been taught about the dangers of unexploded artillery

The Owens family contends that the U.S. government bears a big part of
the blame for their child's injury on land where the public had been
invited to hunt.

This article can be viewed at:

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