Bomb scare shuts down Augusta Regional

By: Kristen Cosby
By: Kristen Cosby

It was a morning of delays and frustration for Masters travelers as Augusta Regional Airport was evacuated for nearly two and a half hours Monday.

A bomb scare over an abandoned box shut down the airport for hours, creating a traveling headache.

Watching planes fly away was like torture to the dozens of people stuck on Doug Barnard Parkway, most of them Masters visitors trying to get home.

"I'm frustrated," said Hallie Gibbs of Jefferson City, Missouri. "I'd like to be able to get in there and get going."

The fire department and bomb squad were the only ones allowed inside the airport for nearly two and a half hours.

Around 8:00 Monday morning, U.S. Marshal Steve Smith found a black box with a padlock on it just outside the front doors.

When no one claimed it, he took action.

"By protocol we evacuated the airport, isolated that part of the terminal and called the bomb squad," Smith said.

In just a few minutes going down the line of people waiting to get into the airport, News 12 met people from New Mexico, Missouri, and even Australia. They weren't worried about missing a flight in Augusta, but they were worried about connecting flights.

"The other option we have is driving to Atlanta, which is a direct flight," said Richard Buerrieri of Bristol, Connecticut.

The mystery box turned out to be safe.

It was simply luggage one man wasn't allowed to he left it outside.

"You just never know anymore, so better safe than sorry," airport marketing director Diane Johnston said.

At 10:30, travelers were allowed into the airport, but they had to put up with unusually long lines.

"They're being very, very accommodating here," said Nita Beach of West Palm Beach, Florida. "They're doing the best they can."

And despite it all, it seems that Augusta's welcome left many in a good mood.

"I'd rather have been at the Masters and have a delay, then not be at the Masters at all," Buerrieri said.

About 5 flights out of Augusta were delayed because of the scare.

As for the traveler who left the box, he flew to Charlotte, where the Transportation Safety Administration met him for some questioning.

At the most, he faces a possible civil federal fine.

Airport officials say that this incident never affected general aviation.

Private planes were able to take off and land the entire time.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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