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Remains found in Santa Cruz could be man lost in flood

Marana police search a 50-yard radius from where bones and a skull were found Sunday by hikers.

Marana police search a 50-yard radius from where bones and a skull were found Sunday by hikers.

Skeletal remains found in the bed of the Santa Cruz River in Marana could be those of a man swept to his death by floodwaters in Tucson last summer, a Marana police spokesman said.

But it is unclear if the remains found Sunday ever will be identified, said Sgt. Tim Brunenkant.

He said the remains were found about 8:15 p.m. by 12- and 18-year-old sisters walking their dogs in the riverbed just south of the Cortaro Road Bridge, Brunenkant said Monday.

Brunenkant said the girls’ dogs dug something up in the riverbed and when the girls went to look, they found a skull. The girls ran home and called police, Brunenkant said.

Brunenkant was not sure all the teeth were in the skull. If not, that could complicate identification of the remains through dental charts.

Brunenkant also said he was unsure if DNA could be obtained from the remains.

No clothing or other items were found with the remains that could point to a possible gender of the dead person, and age and ethnicity or race have not been determined, Brunenkant said.

He said a thigh bone and two other bones also have been found.

Officers will spend much of the day searching for more remains and they are trying to borrow a dog trained to find remains, to aid in the search, Brunenkant said.

Help from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner also is being sought, Brunenkant said.

Roy J. Harris, 28, of Tucson was swept away by monsoon floodwaters about 10:40 p.m. July 19 when he stepped out of his car and was carried into a drainage pipe that runs beneath a lumberyard at North 15th Avenue and West Mabel Street and empties into the Santa Cruz.

Harris was on his way from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to his home near Interstate 10 and West Ruthrauff Road when he apparently became lost and disoriented in the storm, his mother, Mary Harris, said at the time.

After an extensive search failed to turn up Harris’ body, Tucson police Sgt. Mark Robinson said, “There’s no way that we have to predict where he may have ended up.”

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