Green River Star -

Pressure cooker stops traffic on I-80


Bomb technicians from the Sweetwater Bomb Squad dealt with what was suspected to be a pressure-cooker bomb on Interstate 80 Monday.

The pressure cooker ultimately was found not to be a bomb.

Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell said the Wyoming Highway Patrol was notified Monday afternoon that a suspicious item had been spotted on the ground at a truck parking area along the eastbound lane of I-80 at mile marker 142, about 35 miles east of Rock Springs.

WHP Trooper Barry Tippy was dispatched to the scene, where he found an upright pressure cooker. Tippy notified the bomb squad and sent them photographs of the cooker, which appeared to have a wire or cord attached to it, at about 3:30 p.m.

Squad members Corporal Tony Niemiec of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, Officer Doug Lauze, Green River Police Department, and Officer Steve VanValkenburg, Rock Springs Police Department, met Tippy at the scene.

Using two of the unit’s bomb disposal robots, members used special tools mounted on one robot to open the pressure cooker remotely and determined that it contained no bomb materials or other harmful substances. Squad members discovered that the contents were probably chicken stew.

I-80 in the area was briefly closed down while the bomb squad dealt with the situation.

Pressure-cooker bombs have been used by terrorists for at least 16 years. In 2006, more than 200 people were killed by pressure-cooker bombs in the Mumbai train bombings in India. Two pressure cooker bombs were used in the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, and Sept. 17, 29 people were injured when a pressure-cooker bomb exploded in New York City. A suspect in that bombing and a second explosion in New Jersey, identified as Ahmad Khan Rahami, was captured two days later.

Lowell praised the actions of those who initially called in and emphasized county residents of the best procedure to follow when such a suspicious item is encountered:

“Don’t touch it, don’t attempt to move it and don’t approach it,” he said. “Move at least several hundred yards away, then notify authorities,” Lowell concluded.

The Sweetwater Bomb Squad is comprised of law enforcement officers of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office and the Rock Springs and Green River Police Departments.


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