Fatal accident mis-identification. AKA my county officials are idiots.

This is unreal. I never thought I’d see this outside of a Lifetime Movie. I should have known if anyone could cause such a mess it would be the brilliant minds that work in my local county office.

For five weeks a family has mourned their dead child, and the other family has beleived their child alive until yesterday.
These poor families :frowning:


Why are they idiots? I saw pictures of the two women on TV - they did look very similar. Two very similar people involved in the same accident, both with major injuries (fatal in one case); it’s unfortunate that the two were confused, but I don’t see where anyone can be blamed. Are you expecting accident victims to be finger-printed to verify identity?

When you have five dead people I would think you would make every effort to identify before telling families thier loved one has died. This is not something you should guess at. The Coroner himself has issued a statement admitting they didn’t go far enough in trying to ID these girls. My sister was killed in a similar accident, I can’t imagine having her funeral and burying her only to find out weeks later she was alive. Or vice versa.

Under the circumstances you mentioned * , yes of course the victims should have been fingerprinted!

The minor cost and inconvenience of fingerprinting would have avoided this fiasco. That’s what cororners are supposed to do. Their job! :smack:

One would think that there could also be some pretty catastrophic consequences for treating the victim of such a damaging accident using the information from someone else’s medical history.

I’m imagining what it must have been like for the girl who was in the coma. She wakes up and is called “Laura” and sees two people hovering anxiously over her who claim to be her parents that she doesn’t recognize. I wonder if the poor girl thought she had amnesia.

That’s pretty interesting, since in the story your OP linked to, he says (bolding mine)

Which would help in identifying the girls if their prints were already on file somewhere.

I’ve heard of “Switched At Birth”, but this is ridiculous…

I know DNA testing takes a while, but couldn’t they have used blood types as a quick check?

As a parent, I’m not sure if it would take me five weeks to recognize that a child wasn’t mine. I could see a foot and know if it was my son’s or not.

Its tough to blame the Coroner when the wrong family cared for the girl for 5 weeks or so.

NurseCarmen, I thought the same thing. Even allowing for the extent of her injuries, she’d been awake and speaking for a while before they figured out she wasn’t their daughter. Like you said, I can’t imagine not recognizing my daughter’s foot, let alone her voice, her inflections, her mannerisms. And to my eye, the two women just don’t look nearly enough alike for people to mistake them for each other once whatever facial injury/swelling there was began to heal.

They didn’t even check dental records! And, IIRC, it wasn’t a family member who identified the body at the scene. I believe it was a “school official” - someone not necessarily intimately familiar with either one of the girls.

That was exactly my mum’s experience with my older brother. Curtained-off area, just a glimpse of toe, and “That’s him.”

The girls were both brought to a hospital near me. From the tv coverage around here, it seems that there were extensive injuries to both girls and one girl was only identified by school officials, not her family. People can get pretty messed up in a bad car wreck, so I can see how not even family would recognize them. They do have very similar features.

The officials on the scene were interviewed and they admit it can be difficult in a multi-person accident to identify everyone but that more should have been done in a tricky situation like this one. They said DNA tests can be done as a last resort but it takes a long time to get results back and usually other ways of ID’ing a person are faster. The officials probably assumed the families would confirm their ID’s.

If you read the sister’s blog it goes through the events (she was the sister of the deceased, but kept vigil at the other girl’s bedside since they all thought that one was her.) She mentions in the blog how when the girl woke up “She talked nonsense.” The family finally came to the hospital staff with suspicions that she was not their daughter. Can you imagine???

There is a gravesite now with the surviving girl’s name on it - she can see her own grave and hear about her funeral! Creepy!

Imagine the moment of realization for both families.

From what I heard, the girl had extensive injuries. How messed up must her face have been for her own mother not to recognize her for five weeks.

What a godawful mess. On the one hand, one family has their daughter back, but on the other, the other daughter was dead for more than a month and her family didn’t know.

How could the coroner have not done something as simple as checking dental records?!?

On the upside… wow, can you imagine being alive and knowing that 1400 people showed up for your funeral?!

Because he’s a cop, not a certified cororner.