NORTH MIAMI BEACH - Someone riding a wave runner found a brass urn floating in the Intracoastal Waterway near North Miami Beach.
The urn, filled with ashes, was turned over to Geronimo Mena Jr. at Guiding Light Cremations in Hollywood after it floated to the surface near the 163rd Street Bridge last week.
"I am sure the family did that with the best intentions but their plan backfired," Mena told The Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/13BdeTK ). He said he believes someone may have attempted a burial at sea, but the urn surfaced because there was air inside.
He said he's involved as a goodwill gesture.
Mena is certain the ashes are human remains because of the color, texture and presence of bone particles. He said the ashes were inside a plastic bag with a string tied around it rather than the more customary metal tag that identifies the person and the crematorium.
So Mena is hoping someone comes forward to claim the urn. If no one claims the urn in 120 days, Mena said he will scatter the ashes.
But Mena said it's not legal to scatter ashes in the Intracoastal Waterway. The Environmental Protection Agency declares that human remains must be buried at least three nautical miles from land.
Mena told The Herald this is the second time he's been in charge of lost ashes.
"Ten years ago, police handed me an urn that had been forgotten in the back of a rental car," he said. Those ashes were properly tagged and he was able to contact the driver, who was the wife of the deceased.
"The woman thanks me and could take the urn back home."