Canadian police investigate after 14th human foot washes up on coastline

Canadian police are investigating after a human foot washed up on the shores of British Columbia – marking the 14th time since 2007 that tides have carried a shoe-clad foot on to the province’s coastline.

The latest grisly discovery was made on Gabriola Island in the strait of Georgia on Sunday, said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A man was walking along the beach just after noon when he came across what appeared to be a disarticulated foot inside a hiking boot. The boot had become lodged in a logjam, police said in a statement.

The find was the latest in a series that has sparked speculation around the world. Since 2007, 13 feet have washed up in British Columbia, all of them clad in running shoes.

Some have linked the grim finds to natural disasters, such as the 2004 tsunami, or plane or boat accidents at sea. Others have theorised that the feet might be the work of a serial killer or organised crime.

Pranksters have also attempted to add fuel to the fire at times. “We’ve had people put dog foot skeletons in runners and leave them on the beach,” Barb McLintock of the province’s coroner’s office told the Guardian in 2016. “And somebody even used old chicken bones.”

She pointed to the ubiquitous presence of running shoes to perhaps explain some of the mystery. Made with light but durable materials, the shoes both protect the foot from decomposition and act as a flotation device that pulls it to the surface.

The last sneaker-clad foot was found in December 2017 by a man walking his dog along the southern coast of Vancouver Island. After an object tangled in sea kelp captured his dog’s attention, he leaned in for a closer look and found a fibula and tibia attached to a left foot, all of it encased in a white sock and black Velcro shoe.

The province’s coroner service later said the foot belonged to a 79-year-old Washington state man who had gone missing and was later found dead. The investigation is ongoing.

In prior cases, the provincial coroner’s office ruled out foul play, noting that none of the feet showed signs of trauma. Eight of the feet have been identified and they included two pairs. The remaining lone feet all belonged to men.

All of the individuals either killed themselves or died accidentally, with their feet naturally coming apart from their bodies during decomposition, said the coroner.

In the case of this latest find, police said they are currently working with their forensic identification service and the provincial coroner in an effort to identify the remains.

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