Why Are Human Feet Still In Their Shoes Washing Up On Beaches In British Columbia?

There have been 13 feet found over a period of 10 years. Eric Buermeyer/Shutterstock

Josh Davis 15 Dec 2017, 10:52

It’s happened again. A human foot clad in a running shoe has been found washed ashore in British Columbia, Canada. By anyone’s imagination, this sounds like it should be a rare event, but, amazingly, this is the 13th time it has happened on the coast of the Salish Sea in the past decade.

There have been various suggestions put forward to explain the gruesome discoveries, which have in some cases fallen into urban legend. One of the most popular is that the feet are all that are left after their owners have been "disappeared" by local gangsters. Another is that they are the result of a fairly prolific serial killer.

The one thing uniting the body parts, however, seemingly discredits at least some of the more outlandish theories. Every single foot that has washed ashore has been in a running shoe. This makes the idea that gangsters are for some reason targeting joggers quite unlikely, though it doesn’t in itself necessarily rule out the serial killer aspect.

The police have said nothing suggests foul play, revealing that they show no sign or indication of cuts, although some argue that this does not take into account the fact that the bodies may have been weighted down before decomposing.

The shoes, though, hint at what might be going on here. They are buoyant and act as a protective covering, meaning that as a body that has fallen into the water decomposes, the feet are simultaneously brought to the surface and preserved, where they then drift on the currents that swirl around the region until eventually, they make landfall. It is thought that some of the feet have been at sea for years, if not decades.

Of the 13 that have so far been found, only a handful have been identified through DNA testing, and they suggest a far more plausible, though heart-breaking, explanation. One of the feet was found to have belonged to a man who was believed to have been depressed, and is thought to have died by suicide. Another two of the feet were identified as belonging to a woman who jumped from Pattullo Bridge in New Westminster, BC, in 2004.

It seems likely then that these feet are not the result of hitmen or murderers, but most likely the tragic end to people jumping off the bridge as they take their own lives, or by accidentally being washing into the ocean, and their decomposing bodies floating around in the sea for years after the event. The specific pattern of currents that flow around this part of the Canadian coast likely then swept the remains finally onto dry land.

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