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Pierce County To Scatter Unclaimed, Unwanted Remains At Sea


The cremated remains of 23 people will be scattered on the waters of Puget Sound on Thursday. The Pierce County medical examiner says all the ashes are either unwanted, or friends and relatives of the deceased could not be found.

As the list of the deceased indicates, some of the cases go back decades. Dr. Thomas Clark, Pierce County medical examiner, says he's done everything possible to try and find next of kin or friends of the deceased. Sometimes, though, even when he finds relatives, they don't take the ashes.

"They say they don't want anything to do with the person. That's a reality we deal with everyday," Clark said.

This is the first time the medical examiner's office is scattering unclaimed ashes. On Thursday, Dec. 18, the Pierce County sheriff's patrol boat will carry the remains to an undisclosed location on Puget Sound. Two chaplains from West Pierce Fire and Rescue will say a few words and read all of the names before scattering the ashes.

Among the remains are six that have never been identified. Urns with the ashes were found in various places, including in an abandoned house and on the steps of a Tacoma church.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.