Burial at Sea Did Not Follow Federal Guidelines

September 23, 2010
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imageA North Carolina man whose body resurfaced off the coast of Hollywood one day after a burial at sea had been wrapped in a plastic tarp and weighed down, a violation of federal guidelines for the disposal of human remains in the ocean.

It is unknown whether anyone will be charged with a crime in the sea burial of Daniel Scott Lasky, a 48-year-old grocery worker from Hickory, N.C., whose final wish was to be buried offshore of his beloved Fort Lauderdale, where he and his wife frequently came to fish.

Lasky died of Lou Gehrig’s disease on Sept. 8, and the following day his family placed his body on dry ice, loaded it into a van, and drove to Fort Lauderdale to fulfill his dying wish.

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On Sept. 10, Lasky’s widow, Sharon, his pastor and other family boarded a private charter boat, the Mary B, and sailed about four miles offshore from Port Everglades, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

The family said their final goodbyes and buried Lasky, wrapped in plastic and weighed with unidentified objects, in the sea. Then they went fishing in honor of Lasky.

The following morning, a boater found Lasky’s body floating face down and naked, except for a sock on his left foot, according to the police report.

After a brief investigation, sheriff’s deputies discovered Lasky’s obituary in the Sept. 10 edition of the Hickory Daily Record, which announced his final resting place: “Burial will be at sea.’

Lasky’s body was taken to the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office, where an autopsy was performed on Sept. 12 and where he still remains.

The burial of uncremated human remains in the ocean is uncommon and regulated by law.

The Code of Federal Regulations requires the ceremony take place at least three nautical miles from land and in water at least 600 feet deep. The Environmental Protection Agency also must be notified within 30 days of the burial.

Furthermore, state and federal protocols require the body be placed in a coffin made of noncorrosive metal, and that the coffin be secured and contain at least six 2-inch-wide holes drilled in its lid and base.

Veda Coleman-Wright, a BSO spokeswoman, said Sharon Lasky told BSO homicide detectives how the family prepared Lasky for burial, and that Sharon Lasky had a burial transit permit and a death certificate issued in North Carolina.

“I know she did seek professional advice up where she lives,’ Coleman-Wright said, “and from what I understand they subcontracted it with the people down here.’

It is not known what funeral home arranged for the burial at sea. Lasky’s widow and the operators of the Mary B declined comment on Wednesday.

It is unclear what, if any laws were broken. But it is apparent that Lasky’s burial did not follow federal guidelines establishing procedures to ensure that human remains sink to the ocean bottom quickly and permanently.

“The case is still open and we’re conferring with the Coast Guard,’ said Coleman-Wright.

Meanwhile, the medical examiner’s office is awaiting instructions from the family about what to do with the body until it is properly buried.

Source: PalmBeachPost.com

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