The remains of five human bodies were unearthed last week at Ignacio Intermediate School, where a construction crew was laying a sewer line, said La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith.
The bones are believed to be 50 to 75 years old, possibly from a family burial plot, she said.
No foul play is suspected.
The remains were found Thursday in a ballfield at the school, west of downtown Ignacio. They are expected to remain in the ground for a couple of weeks or longer until archaeologists can excavate them and move them to a new burial site, Smith said.
Investigators believe the remains belong to the “Garcia” family, she said. They are working to find descendents of the Spanish family, Smith said.
“We think we know what family it is, but we’re trying to track down anybody who knows for sure that’s the family,” she said.
The Ignacio School District is converting the intermediate school into a new elementary school. The bones were discovered March 21, and construction stopped until Thursday, said Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto.
Construction has resumed on other parts of the building, he said.
The area will be sealed off until the bodies can be excavated, he said.
Sonar will be used to detect if other remains are buried on school grounds, he said.
It is too early to know if the construction schedule will be affected, he said. It is costing the school district money to excavate the bones, Fuschetto said.
Multiple state agencies have been notified, as required by law, Smith said. The Ignacio Police Department and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe have been notified. An anthropologist from Fort Lewis College is assisting, she said.
The remains need to be moved, because a playground and open field are slated for the area, Fuschetto said.
“We’re going to do this respectfully,” he said. “We’re following all the protocols,”