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Another disembodied foot has washed up on the B.C. coast — here’s why this keeps happening

Another disembodied foot has washed up on the B.C. coast — here’s why this keeps happening
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“Our early analysis suggests these are human remains and we will do further investigation and testing to help to determine identification in the coming weeks,” Andy Watson, a spokesman for the Coroners Service, told the Times Colonist . 

A beach in Jordan River, B.C., near where the latest foot was discovered. The Province

The ongoing saga of B.C.’s “floating feet” is one of Canada’s most well-known news stories, partially because of outlandish theories about a foot-obsessed serial killer or murderous drug cartel.

But in a part of the world that has become quite used to this kind of thing, this latest discovery is almost certainly the remains of someone who died in waters around Vancouver.

The floating feet are all the result of what coroners call “disarticulation.”

Any corpse left underwater will quickly begin to decompose, with the feet eventually detaching from the rest of the body.

If that detached foot is laced into a buoyant running shoe, however, it will bob to the surface and be carried along by currents until it strikes land. Since shoes are usually the only buoyant item of clothing worn by the average British Columbian, no other portions of the body ever make it to the surface.

In this 2011 photo, Bill Inkster (L) and Stephen Fonseca of the Identification and Disaster Response Unit for the B.C Coroners Service, sit in front of the GIS mapping system with the shoes from the famous ‘floating feet’ case that the team successfully solved. Ben Nelms/National Post

Washed-up human feet have presumably always been a feature of the B.C. coast ever since the widespread adoption of running shoes began in the 1980s.

However, it was only after the first foot highly-publicized foot discovery, by a 12-year-old girl in 2007, that British Columbians began paying special attention to dirty running shoes they spotted along beaches.

Although initially baffled by the floating feet, the B.C. Coroner’s Service has become a world leader in identifying waterlogged human feet.

Of the 12 feet that have been discovered in B.C. prior to this latest discovery, 10 have been successfully linked to seven individuals.

She added, “they’re all very sad cases.”

In this 2011 photo, Stephen Fonseca, Manager of the Identification and Disaster Response Unit for the B.C Coroners Service, stands in front of the GIS mapping system with the shoes from the famous ‘floating feet’ case. Ben Nelms for National Post

The causes of death all appear to be accidents or suicides that have occurred in the Vancouver area.

One foot found in Port Moody, B.C. in 2011 was traced to Stefan Zahorujko, a 65-year-old believed to have drowned in a boating accident in 1987.

Two feet were traced to a young man who is believed to have jumped to his death off the Alex Fraser Bridge in 2004.

Another foot discovered in Richmond in 2009 was traced to a 25-year-old who had been reported missing by his family two years before.

As investigators have noted, the feet have often provided critical solace to grieving family, as they are often the only recovered remains of a deceased loved one.

As with previous discoveries, the foot found in Sooke has most likely already undergone a thorough examination for evidence of fractures, tattoos or identifying scars.

From there, forensic investigators will likely run a DNA test to compare against known mission persons, and determine the purchase date of the shoes to determine an approximate time of death.

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