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As It Was: Grenade Blows Up Car Pursued by Crater Lake Ranger

Crater Lake National Patrol Ranger Alice Siebecker was pursuing a speeding car on the park’s south entrance road in 1982 when the car exploded, ran off the road, and flew 500 feet through the air into an embankment.

FBI and the Jackson County sheriff’s bomb squad said a military-style hand grenade had exploded inside the car, killing the driver and blowing off one of his hands. They found a knife and handgun in the driver’s door and a rifle in the trunk.  The investigators believed the grenade exploded in the driver’s hand before he could throw it at the patrol ranger or he committed suicide. 

The driver, German national Amdris Merzejuskis, had served time in federal prison and was wanted in Texas on drug smuggling charges. The vehicle was a stolen rental car from San Diego with California license plates.

What the driver was doing at Crater Lake with firearms and a grenade in a stolen car remains a mystery today.

The Crater Lake Institute writes that after her close encounter with the grenade, Ranger Siebecker left the Park Service and returned to her occupation of violin making.

Source: "Deaths at Crater Lake National Park." Crater Lake Institute:Smith Brothers' Chronological History of Crater Lake National Park, Crater Lake Institute, www.craterlakeinstitute.com/cultural-history/smith-brothers-chronology/b-deaths.htm. Accessed 1 Dec. 2017; Source: "UPI: National News Briefs." UPI, UPI, 30 Aug. 1982, https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/08/30/National-News-Briefs/6228399528000/. Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.