Body found during oil cleanup

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Chevron crews working to clean up from last weekend's massive oil spill discovered a decomposing body near Red Butte Creek Sunday.

Investigators have not been able to identify the body. In fact, the body is so badly decomposed, police couldn't even tell if it was male or female.

Police say workers were clearing brush on the eastern edge of the University of Utah campus south of Red Butte Garden and north of the Williams building around 11 a.m. when one of them spotted what he thought was a human body part.

They discovered what appeared to them to be a decomposed foot wedged in bramble undergrowth and dead, downed limbs.

–Chief Scott Folsom.

"They discovered what appeared to them to be a decomposed foot wedged in bramble undergrowth and dead, downed limbs," said University of Utah Police Chief Scott Folsom.

The workers called police. Since the body was discovered on campus, the university's police department is the investigating agency.

Salt Lake City police officers assisted in recovering the body, which was actually in the water. University officers say the water had to be turned down in order to get to the body.


Police say the body had been decomposing for weeks or even months. The medical examiner will have to confirm whether it was a man or a woman.

Police say the body was clothed, but had no identification on it.

University police also called in Salt Lake City Fire Department experts who are familiar with steep terrain recovery.

"It's a very steep, unsteady footing -- heavily overgrown with brush," Folsom said. "We set it up to do it safely so we don't have any of the detectives or firefighters injured doing the operation. It just involves setting up a lot of equipment.

Saturday, Chevron conducted a flush of the creek, so police say it's possible this body started out further upstream.

The university has no missing persons cases on file, so it's involving other agencies throughout the valley.

Police say there's no way to tell if the body could belong to Susan Powell, the West Valley City mother who's been missing since late last year.



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