Father Discovers Son Alive 11 Days After Burying Him

'When somebody tells me my son is dead ... I believe them'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2017 3:55 PM CDT
Father Buries Wrong Man After Coroner's Mistake
In this Friday, June 23, 2017 photo, Frank Kerrigan holds onto a a funeral card for his son Frank, near Wildomar, Calif.   (Andrew Foulk)

Eleven days after laying his son to rest, Frank Kerrigan got a call from a friend, the AP reports. "Your son is alive," he said. According to the Orange County Register, Orange County coroner's officials in California had misidentified the body. The mix-up began on May 6 when a man was found dead behind a Verizon store. Kerrigan, 82, said he called the coroner's office and was told the body was that of his 57-year-old son, also named Frank Kerrigan, who is mentally ill and had been living on the street. When he asked whether he should identify the body, a woman said—apparently incorrectly—that identification had been made through fingerprints.

"When somebody tells me my son is dead, when they have fingerprints, I believe them," Kerrigan said. On May 12, the family held a $20,000 funeral that drew about 50 people, and the body was buried 150 feet from where Kerrigan's wife is buried. "Someone else had a beautiful sendoff," one family member said. "It's horrific." Then came the May 23 phone call from a friend; Kerrigan's son was standing on his patio. It's unclear how coroner's officials misidentified the body. An attorney for the family said the coroner's office apparently used an old driver's license photo when identifying the body as the younger Frank Kerrigan. The family plans to sue. (More mistaken identity stories.)

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