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'Loud and startling': Billings woman recounts driving over combustible device

'Loud and startling': Billings woman recounts driving over combustible device
Posted at 4:07 PM, Sep 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-11 12:44:00-04

Billings police recently warned drivers of suspicious devices found in streets that ignite when driven over.

Lt. Matt Lennick wrote on social media that there have been seven separate incidents involving the devices over the past few months. The device is said to be a ball of tinfoil and an unknown flammable material.

Heather Wick believes she ran over one of the devices about two weeks ago when driving northbound on Division Street. Wick described the sound as, "in between a pop and a firework."

Her immediate thought was that she had popped a tire. So, she pulled over onto Fourth Avenue North to investigate what had happened and was shocked by the lack of damage to her tires.

“The noise was so loud and startling that when I got out of my car and saw my tire intact, I thought I was losing my mind,” Wick said on Sunday.

'Loud and startling': Billings woman recounts driving over combustible device

It wasn't until she saw the Billings Police Department's post on social media warning motorists of the devices that she realized what she may have encountered.

“When I read the post and read other comments of situations that were just like mine, it all made sense,” she said.

According to Lennick, the devices have been left on roadways across the city, but he did not release the exact locations in the social media post. The devices vary in size, which may make them hard to see.

Wick said it was the middle of the afternoon when she believed she drove over one of the explosive devices.

“It was still nice and light out, so I should have been able to see whatever it was,” she said. “I can completely see how it could cause an accident because it is such a startling noise.”

Wick said she is happy that her children were not in the car with her when it happened and is hopeful the police will find whoever is leaving the devices on the road.

"I'm sure whoever is doing it thinks it's a harmless prank, but it's just not something fun to encounter while driving," she said. “I’ve become more aware of any little liter on the ground whereas normally I would just drive it over. Not anymore.”