State workers dredging a section of Gastineau Channel on Monday made a grisly discovery: they pulled a human leg with a boot still attached to it out of the water.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was conducting debris removal on Douglas Island, between Sandy Beach and Lucky Me, a community about a mile from the end of the road that is accessible only by water, according to Juneau Police Department Lt. David Campbell.
The workers were using a dredger that operates like a claw to drag debris from the bottom of the channel, Campbell said. The department periodically conducts debris removal and was not looking for anything specifically, he said.
“On one of these drags, they ended up finding this piece (of human remains),” Campbell said in an interview Tuesday afternoon, adding that they called Alaska State Troopers, who in turn contacted JPD at just before 5 p.m. Monday.
A JPD officer responded to the area and took possession of the leg and boot; the leg, which was from the knee down, was subsequently sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for potential identification.
The condition of the leg made it difficult to determine who it might have come from, or how long the leg might have been in the water, Campbell said.
“We have no idea of the gender or the race,” he said. He declined to provide any specifics about the boot.
There is a possibility of identification through DNA sampling, which could be sent to an outside lab.
“That could take a good chunk of time,” Campbell said.
There could be more remains in the channel, he said, adding, “My understanding is they found the leg and stopped dredging.”
JPD does not have a dive team and the investigator is trying to figure out the logistics of searching the area further, possibly with a dive team from another department or with a remotely operated vehicle.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 523-2246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.