CIENEGA SPRINGS, Ariz. — A man snorkeling in the Colorado River near the Arizona and California border was terrified — and later embarrassed — when he came across two fake skeletons sitting in lawn chairs about 40 feet underwater.
The man reported the skeletons to the La Paz County Sheriff's Office on Monday, launching a hunt for what authorities believed could be real bodies.
It turned out the skeletons were fake and had been strategically placed to appear as if they were sitting together, their lawn chairs bound to large rocks. A diver from the Buckskin Fire Department captured the scene on a video camera attached to his head. The sheriff's office called the scene a tea party.
The skeletons are wearing sunglasses, and one is holding a sign that includes the words "Bernie" and "dream in the river," although the entire sign is not legible. The sign also has the date of Aug. 16, 2014, which is 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 and 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 wants 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 it's OK to go put something there," he said.