Crime

Is this your loved one? Medical Examiner sends out last call before scattering unclaimed remains

Pierce County Medical Examiner Thomas Clark releases a bag of unclaimed human remains from a Pierce County Sheriff’s boat into Puget Sound water on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. He now stands accused of mishandling death investigations involving children.
Pierce County Medical Examiner Thomas Clark releases a bag of unclaimed human remains from a Pierce County Sheriff’s boat into Puget Sound water on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. He now stands accused of mishandling death investigations involving children. Staff file, 2016

They died alone in Pierce County between 2009 and 2016, unclaimed and seemingly unmourned: 56 people ranging in age from 47 to 83.

Their remains linger at the Medical Examiner’s office. Soon, they will be scattered in the waters of Puget Sound, unless family members emerge to claim them. The deadline is Monday (Aug. 28).

The practice of scattering ashes started in 2014, “due to limited resources and an inability to store records indefinitely,” according to a statement from the office. It cites Medical Examiner Thomas Clark’s view that “it is more dignified and environmentally friendly to scatter ashes than storing them on a shelf.”

A list of the individuals, including names, death dates and locations, is available online at www.co.pierce.wa.us/medicalexaminer. For additional information, call 253-798-6494.

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