Forensic doctor identifies bones found by Plastic Ocean Project in New Hanover County

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) – Bones were found during a litter pickup along U.S. 421 in New Hanover County on Sunday, December 11. Experts had to identify if the bones belonged to a human or an animal.

The Plastic Ocean Project, a Wilmington environment protection non-profit, was conducting its first litter cleanup for “Adopt-A-Highway” on U.S. 421, near the near the New Hanover County Landfill, when Sam Athey education and outreach coordinator, found the bones with a co-worker.

Athey said the bones were scattered near and inside a carry-on sized suitcase.

“I noticed was a suitcase, and when we approached it, there were some bones kind of littered around the suitcase and we thought that was strange, because they were quite large, and then I just gently peeked open the top of the suitcase and looked inside, and there were some bones in there. Again, large bones –pretty unusual,” said Sam Athey, Plastic Ocean Project education and outreach coordinator.

They were advised to call the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office’s non-emergency line.

A crime scene investigator came to the scene while the remains were examined by a UNCW forensic doctor who works with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. The doctor determined the bones belong to a deer.

“Anytime you’re on the side of the road cleaning up stuff. There’s no telling what you can find. Bones of any sort, kind of tends to raise people’s attention, but these were just deer bones, which on 421 North is not a rarity,” said Lt. Jerry Brewer, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Athey said the nonprofit prepares volunteers, in case they find strange or dangerous items during clean ups.

“It’s definitely one of the more strange finds that we found in our clean ups, especially on the roadside, but because this was a cleanup in conjunction with the department of transportation we had all the volunteers watch a DOT safety training video. So, and then we had our clean up coordinator on-site. So if, in the event that anything unusual is found during the cleanup, the volunteers had people on-site that would help,” said Athey.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said you should contact them if you ever find any bones or remains.

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