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Woman Won’t Face Charges for Grenade

December 18, 2001

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Authorities decided Monday that a woman won’t face charges after a dummy hand grenade fell out of a bag she was carrying and rolled down the aisle of a jet preparing to take off for Chicago.

Lolita Austria, 57, of Rochester, N.Y., carried the bag away from a security checkpoint at the San Diego airport on Sunday moments after the fake grenade had been used in a security test.

Sgt. Chuck Marks of the San Diego Harbor Police said there wasn’t any evidence to charge Austria with stealing the shopping bag, which also contained a sweatshirt, or show that she knew what was inside.

After boarding American Airlines Flight 788, Austria pulled the shirt out of the bag and saw the grenade. She ``began to panic and alerted flight personnel that the item was not hers,″ authorities said. The grenade then rolled onto the floor.

The flight sat for more than three hours on the runway while crews came to the scene. All 108 passengers were taken off the aircraft and rescreened before the plane left.

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