Quick quiz: What do you do when you find a human skull--or is that a plastic skull?-- in the garbage at the solid waste transfer station where you work?
a) Ignore it.
b) Turn it over to authorities.
c) Place it on a pole or stanchion and leave it in public view.The correct answer, if you are an unnamed worker at the Island County public works transfer station near Coupeville, is (c). Which is actually also the incorrect answer, because as it turns out, it was a real skull, a member of the public did see it on the pole, and that same individual felt compelled to report the incident to higher authorities.
As any good fan of Curtis Cartier can tell you, finding a human skull in Washington state and failing to turn it over to authorities isn't the greatest of ideas. As the Whidbey News-Times reports, the worker claims he thought it was plastic when he put it on a pike on July 30. Once the member of the public complained, the cops were contacted. Island County Coroner Robert Bishop showed up and quickly determined that the cranium--a skull minus the mandible--which had a serial number on it, was almost certainly used for instruction and was likely not ancient or Native American.
When the story broke earlier this week, the Island County public works office said it would explore a new policy for workers who find human remains in the garbage stream. (We are happy to share Seattle Weekly's model policy on this matter, which goes like this: Call the police.) There was also mention that the worker in question may be reprimanded for his poor choice in cranium placement. We're putting in an early-morning call to the office to find out of any development, and will let you know if and when we hear back.
In the mean time, we'll note that the coroner of Island County expressed his desire to have the evidently wee, probably female, and possibly Indian cranium given a proper burial, if in an unmarked grave.
"I don't care where it came from," he told the News-Times. "it's still a person."