Trauma or decomposition at fault for spate of jogger-less feet?

Voice of Sanity tells me:

“Decomposition. ‘Not by trauma’ means no signs of cutting. There’s been considerable discussion of this in BC. The head and limbs don’t bloat up like the torso so they tend to sink, however the runners provide some flotation. It’s still very puzzling.” (He also recommends this Wikipedia article, which is indeed very interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salish_Sea_human_foot_discoveries )

The actual quote by the coroner Stephen Fonseca to which I referred was: “Foul play was not suspected because there was no sign of trauma.” Since I have a low opinion of medical examiners, I failed to note that the idiotic remark was made not by a medical examiner but by a “coroner,” who may or may not be a physician or pathologist.

It is obvious that the people in question who lost their feet did so after they were dead, and the only way they could possibly have died was after a traumatic event. Drowning is a trauma. Drowned bodies show signs of the trauma in their lungs and eyeballs, so obviously there would be “no sign of trauma” on a drowning victim’s feet. One of the feet was in a hiking boot. The least sinister explanation for this is that a hiker on a cliff overlooking the shore slipped and fell to his death. This trauma could have resulted in the same trauma a person would suffer by jumping to their death from a tall building—but much trauma, nonetheless, and not likely to the feet.

It seems to me that the only way anyone’s foot could rot off their submerged body is if they first suffered a traumatic event.

It is absurd to say that  there is no reason to suspect “foul play.”

Sidebar: If Dr. G. had testified in Casey Anthony’s murder trial that the manner of death was “some form of foul play,” I would have agreed. A reasonable person could easily conclude that a crime had to have been committed when a child’s body was found in a trash bag in a wooded area near her mother’s home. (But it could have been merely improper disposal of a body.)

As in the Anthony case,  the causes of death for the athletic-shoed feet are unknown and, therefore, so is the manner of death: they could have died accidentally of drowning, or as a result of suicide, or homicide.

However, since few people wear athletic shoes while swimming, it is highly unlikely that they all drowned accidentally. Yes, some people do wear athletic shoes instead of boat shoes when boating, and people on cruise ships might wear them on deck. But such people would have been reported missing, and DNA testing could match the feet with the victims.

Most of the explanations provided in the article have not been scientifically proven to be possible. For instance, how does anyone know a foot could travel 1000 miles on ocean currents?

The idea that the feet may have come mainly from the 2004 tsunami isn’t reasonable, either. Two of the feet have been tentatively identified as belonging to people from British Columbia. Two of the feet are from the same woman, and the odds of two feet from a tsunami victim winding up in the same place are astronomical.

In addition these feet have all been found in the past four years and all in a relatively small area given the enormity of the oceans on this planet and the length of their shorelines.

I think a better remark from a coroner might have been: “Foul play cannot be ruled out in any of these cases.”

Maybe the ME’s Office in Knoxville, TN, isn’t the worst in the world.

I was preparing a blog post about the decades’ long problems with medical examiners in Knoxville, TN, when an article on a CNN blog caught my eye: “Canadian Floating Feet Mystery Deepens.” I urge you to read it, if you have any reasonable doubt that juries ought to listen to medical examiners’ courtroom testimony with a great deal of skepticism. (Think Dr. G’s claim that Caylee’s remains proved the manner of death was homicide.)

If you don’t care to read such a gruesome article, here is the punch line:

“For the 11th time in the past four years, a human foot in a sport shoe was found on a Pacific Northwest shoreline. . . . ‘These human remains did not show any evidence of trauma whatsoever,’ CBC quoted [Medical Examiner Stephen] Fonseca as saying.”

Okay, doc, exactly how did the foot become detached from the ankle if it was not by trauma?

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