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Man transporting corpse arrested

Christina Proctor

The human remains discovered near Echo Summit encountered a detour Wednesday on the trip to the coroner’s office. The mortuary driver was arrested in Placerville shortly after 11:30 a.m. for driving under the influence.

Dennis White, 37, of South Lake Tahoe was pulled over by California Highway Patrol officers after three citizens reported erratic driving to 911. One witness said they saw the white van run off the road near Kyburz and hit an embankment. Authorities said a mark on the van fit with the callers’ description. When officers contacted White, an employee of McFarlane Mortuary, they noticed a unrestrained body bag stuffed in between the passenger side seat and the van.

When questioned White couldn’t explain where he was in route to, and he had no paperwork for the remains, CHP authorities said. White allegedly told authorities that he had been using codeine. Representatives of McFarlane said the paperwork for the remains were being transported by investigating officers.

El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and took the remains to Green Valley Mortuary in Placerville until another employee from McFarlane could arrive and take the remains to the Sacramento County Coroner’s office.

“We would never have knowingly let him drive had we known he was taking any medications,” said Mike McFarlane, owner of the mortuary. “In our 31 years of business we have never had an accident while transporting a body.”

El Dorado County Sheriff’s investigators said Wednesday afternoon that the bone, tissue and hair found on the slope appear to be from an adult male. Detective Don Atkinson said the remains will next be sent to an anthropologist at the University of California, Chico, in hopes of getting a better idea of the man’s appearance.

Atkinson said the death is being considered suspicious, which can range from accidental to homicide.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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