CIENEGA SPRINGS, Ariz. (May 6, 2015) – A man snorkeling in the Colorado River near the Arizona and California border was terrified, then embarrassed, after he called Arizona authorities about a pair of skeletons he’d seen.
The man reported seeing skeletons seated in lawn chairs to the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday. That launched a hunt for what authorities believed could be real bodies.
It turned out the skeletons, sitting about 40 feet underwater, were fake and had been strategically placed to appear as if they were sitting together. Their lawn chairs were bound to large rocks.
A diver from the Buckskin Fire Department captured the scene with a video camera. The sheriff’s office called the scene a tea party.
The skeletons were wearing sunglasses, and one is holding a sign that included the words “Bernie” and “dream in the river,” although the entire sign is not legible.
The sign also had the date of Aug. 16, 2014, which was possibly when the skeletons were placed there.
“I don’t think they were trying to set up anything to scare anyone. I think they were gonna try to be funny,” Lt. Curtis Bagby said.
The sign could be a reference to the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s,” in which the two main characters lug around their dead boss for days, losing and recovering his body several times, Bagby said.
At one point in the film, Bernie’s corpse falls off a boat into water.
The sheriff’s office won’t launch an investigation into who left the skeletons there, Bagby said.
“Things happen. We go all the time to false alarms. That’s just a first-responder’s life. We’re trying not to be overly concerned about it, not make too big a deal out of it,” Bagby said.
Instead, the sheriff’s office wanted to have a little fun with the situation.
Bagby said divers will recover the skeletons sometime this week and that he is considering placing them outside the sheriff’s office as a joke.
“We like to show some things that are fun, some levity too. But in the meantime, don’t think its OK to go put something there,” he said.