California father buries wrong man after coroner's mistake

California father buries wrong man after coroner's mistake

A family friend, Bill Shinker, who had served as a pallbearer at the funeral, was the one who called Kerrigan's dad to let him know his son was not dead, but rather was very much alive and standing on his patio, the Orange County Register reported.

The elder Frank Kerrigan was a bit puzzled, he told the Register, when his son's purported belongings were given back to him by the state.

It was all part of a bigger mix-up that involved a man found dead in Fountain Valley, a lack of fingerprint records and a mistaken photo I.D.

Kerrigan says he was told fingerprints were used to ID 57-year-old Frank M. Kerrigan, who is mentally ill and homeless.

When he asked whether he should identify the body, a woman said, apparently incorrectly, that identification had been made through fingerprints.

On May 12, Frank's brother, John Kerrigan, gave the eulogy at an emotional funeral service for his "dead" sibling.

It all began on May 6, when Kerrigan was notified by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department that he needed to get in touch with the Orange County Coroner.

"Someone else had a attractive send-off".

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

But Meikle was struck by the fact that what she was looking at contrasted with what the coroner's office had told her - that her brother had died peacefully.

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Kerrigan's parents buried a body identified by officials as their son on May 6.

Kerrigan, 82, had been told by the coroner that his homeless son had been found dead in the street. Now, imagine the range of emotions you would have if only a few weeks later, you receive a phone call not only saying your son is alive, but that he's there and you can speak to him on the phone.

"I didn't know what my dead son was going to look like", he said.

It was a miraculous turn of events for the grief-stricken family, though now the question was how could such a mishap occur and who had the family actually come to bury?

"We lived through or worst fear", she said.

The body was interred at a cemetery in Orange.

After Frank J. Kerrigan learned his son was alive, authorities reran the deceased man's finger prints and matched them to someone else.

"The people that we put in place to handle things, when they make these kind of mistakes, they have to be held accountable", family attorney W. Douglas Easton said.

She also said Social Security and other federal agencies believe the younger Frank is dead, and are withholding disability payments. Unfortunately, the younger Frank is still battling mental illness and has returned to living on the streets, according to the report.

So with the medical examiner's word that he was gone, Meikle said, she left some rosary beads in the bushes and the family set about planning a funeral. 'He was dead on the sidewalk. Lane Lagaret went on to say the Orange County Sheriff's Department will conduct an internal investigation into the error and that identification procedures and policies will now be reviewed to ensure this doesn't happen again in the future. "We buried him. Those feelings don't go away", she said.

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