Saturday 22 July 2017

Dad received call from his son 11 days after he thought he buried him

A coffin (stock photo)
A coffin (stock photo)

Zainab Boladale

A man was told his son had died received a call from him 11 days after the funeral due to a body being misidentified.

Frank J Kerrigan (82) from Wildomar, California said the coroner’s office told him the body of a man who was found dead at a Verizon store in Fountain Valley was that of his son. However, 11 days after his son's funeral, a friend called to alert him that he was alive.

A woman working in the coroner’s office apparently told him that identification had been made through fingerprints.

Doug Easton, an attorney hired by Kerrigan, said the coroner’s officials apparently weren’t able to match the corpse’s fingerprints through a law enforcement database and instead identified Kerrigan by using an old driver’s license photo.

“When somebody tells me my son is dead, when they have fingerprints, I believe them,” Mr Kerrigan said.

His son, Frank M Kerrigan (57) is mentally ill and has been living on the street.

The family held a $20,000 funeral with about 50 people in attendance and the man was interred near Mr Kerrigan'swife.

At the funeral, Mr Kerrigan had looked at the man in the casket and stroked his hair.

“I didn’t know what my dead son was going to look like,” he said.

When the family told authorities he was alive, they tried the fingerprints again and learned they matched someone else’s.

The attorney said the family plans to sue, alleging authorities didn’t properly try to identify the body as Kerrigan’s son because he is homeless.

Frank's sister, Carole Meikle said the mistaken death identification led the federal government to stop disability payments for her brother. Her brother has returned to living on the streets and doesn’t realise how hard the incident was on the family.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is conducting an internal investigation into the mix-up and all identification policies and procedures will be reviewed.

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