Port Renfrew’s Botanical Beach is a world-renown place of many marine wonders, including micro-ecosystems and natural splendor not seen anywhere else – but there was an object slightly out of place Sunday, spotted along the beach by a hiker.
A running shoe, with what appeared to be a human foot inside.
After Sooke RCMP were alerted to the grim discovery, the B.C. Coroners Service later confirmed the foot, which was encased in a sock and shoe, is of human origin.
Grim as it may seem though, it’s not the first time a foot has turned up on Vancouver Island’s shores.
This is the 13th foot to show up since 2007, and the first on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, said Barb McClintock, a B.C. Coroners Service spokesperson.
Most of the other feet were on the eastern side of the Island or Lower Mainland area and coast such as the Sunshine Coast and Powell River.
Of the 13, a total of 10 have been identified, coming from seven separate individuals; three were pairs.
McClintock said none of the cases had any homicide or foul play involved and that they were all the result of accidents or suicides.
Who the foot belongs to and where it came from is still unknown.
“Work will now continue with the identification unit of the B.C. Coroners Service and our community and police partners to try to determine the identity of the individual concerned and a cause of death,” McClintock said in a press release.
“Final confirmation in these circumstances must come from DNA testing.”
McClintock added that the type of shoe in question was first sold in North America in March 2013, which implies the shoe’s owner died at some point between March 2013 and December 2015.
And as far as how it separated from the rest of the body, a preliminary coroner’s examination suggests the foot disarticulated naturally from the rest of the body as a result of prolonged immersion in water.
In the case where a foot is found, the reason it stays relatively intact is because it’s held together in a sock and the shoe itself, which also has far more buoyancy.
So far, there are 178 unidentified cases of missing persons at sea the B.C. Coroner Service is investigating.
And it can look into for a long time, too. McClintock said that of the 10 identified, two had gone missing in the 1980s.
People have gone missing in the Port Renfrew region before, so nothing is ruled out at this point, said Sooke RCMP Staff Sgt. Jeff McArthur, adding that the detachment is working with the coroner to figure out what bodies they have outstanding, where they’re from and see if anything matches.
“It could be from anywhere, someone taken with the currents, it could even be from the [United] States, we’re looking into that in assistance to the coroner’s role.”