Cremated human remains found on I-20 bridge girder|[4/21/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2006

A work crew on the Interstate 20 river bridge got a startling surprise Thursday – finding a container of cremated human remains.

&#8220It was at a point near the center of the bridge, where you have some girders underneath there, if you look just over the railing,” said Chief Andy Webb of the Delta Police Department who was called by the crew.

The container was atop a platform under the eastbound span that crosses the Mississippi, connecting Mississippi and Louisiana.

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Information on a plastic bag inside identified the remains as those of Benjamin Matthews, with the cremation performed by Woodlawn Cemetery in the New York City borough of The Bronx.

Webb could not say how long the box may have been under the bridge, but did say the box and remains have been mailed back to Woodlawn Cemetery.

Reached later, cemetery spokesman Susan Olson confirmed that Matthews was from The Bronx. Olson declined to reveal his age or the date of his cremation at the request of the family.

Both she and Chief Webb theorize the box containing the remains was thrown over the railing of the bridge to &#8220spread the ashes” in the river, but the box made it only to the girders.

Olson said calls about individuals they cremate being found thousands of miles from where they are cremated are not uncommon.

&#8220Sometimes they wash ashore on a beach or some remains may be found scattered on a beach. We get this call frequently,” Olson said.

The main identifier, Olson said, is the metal tag required by law in New York that accompanies the ashes inside the bag that holds them. In addition to the tag, other information on the heat-resistant bag includes a series number and the name of the cemetery in charge.

The box and ashes will be returned to the family, Olson said.