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Dog on walk across street from Knott Landfill finds part of human foot; officials say its likely from medical procedure

(Update: Deschutes County landfill doesn't accept medical waste, official says)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A person walking several dogs in a vacant field across SE 27th Street from Deschutes County’s Knott Landfill reported a startling, even grisly find when one of the dogs returned with what appeared to be – and indeed, turned out to be – part of a human foot.

Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies responded on Sunday, Jan. 21 and secured the item, Sergeant Jason Wall said Monday. Investigators contacted several agencies to assist with the unusual case.

The Oregon and Deschutes County medical examiners’ offices, the Oregon State Police Forensic Anthropology Unit and the DA’s office helped identify how the human remains could end up in a vacant field near the landfill.

"Investigators have determined the partial remains are not suspicious in nature, and more likely than not is a result of accidental improper disposal," Wall said. "It is with a high degree of confidence the remains are a result of a medical procedure (an amputation)."

Wall told NewsChannel 21 the remains were not badly decomposed, so it’s likely from a recent surgery in Bend. He said the disposed-of body part probably made its way to the landfill “as part of standard operating procedure,” to await being taken to a medical waste facility for incineration.

“Possibly an animal located it and dragged it over” to the field across the street.

“It clearly did not walk itself over there,” Wall said.

A bird such an eagle or carrion-eating bird, like a raven or crow, could have grabbed it and possibly dropped it in the nearby field, he explained.

But if so, it’s rare:  Wall said, “I don’t recall anything of this sort happening prior, and I’ve been working here 17 years.”

While detectives are trying to determine where and when the surgery occurred, it appears “there’s no crime here,” the sergeant said. “I don’t believe there’s’ any intent by any company to dispose of it haphazardly. It’s a mistake -- a complete accident.”

But Deschutes County Director of Solid Waste Tim Brownell said the landfill doesn't take in medical waste, anyway.

 "There is no area on the Knott Landfill property that accepts medical waste," he told NewsChannel 21. "We do have a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility that accepts chemical wastes. We do accept sharps/needles from residents,  but that goes through the HHW program."

Brownell said Republic Services offers medical waste collection services, and they work with a company called Stericycle for the proper handling and disposal of those medically generated wastes. A company called Clean Harbors works with St Charles for the handling and disposal of their medically sensitive waste.

"As I understand it, the human waste (body parts) get specially handled and tagged and ultimately get sent out of state to be incinerated," he said. 

Article Topic Follows: Accidents and Crashes

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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