Two North Carolina sisters have claimed that a funeral home mistakenly placed a stranger's body in their mother's casket.
Jennifer Taylor and Jennetta Archer made the discovery at their mother Mary's viewing at Hunter’s Funeral Home in Ahoskie earlier this month. They immediately noticed the body was not their mother, who died in August, as they peered into the casket.
"There’s no similarity in the person. Their size was way off. When the first person had the clothing on, she was swimming in the clothes because she was so small compared to my mother," Archer told WAVY.
The sisters said that, when confronted, the funeral home first denied that the body in the casket was not Mary. It was only when staff reportedly went into the embalming room that they realized the mistake. The switch was made and the service began but the sisters were unhappy with how the problem was dealt with.
"No one addressed it immediately. It would have been a different situation if they had just come upfront and addressed it immediately to show that yes, they did, they made an error," Archer said.
The funeral home's lead embalmer told WAVY that the mix-up was a simple mistake — one that had not happened in more than 40 years of his embalming career. He added that an apology had been issued to the family and that he had reached out to the sisters to explain. They both denied ever receiving a call.
"What do you do to prevent something like that from happening?" Archer said of the ordeal. "Don’t they have a chart per person and treat them like a customer or a patient or whatever you want to refer to them as so that you don’t have them mixed up?"
There have been several similar incidents in recent years. A funeral home in San Antonio, Texas, was sued by two families after the bodies of their loved ones were reportedly swapped, according to Newsweek. Another family in South Carolina meanwhile, believing that they were burying their 90-year-old grandmother, instead put another body in the ground.
A 2017 Independent report found that, according to an analysis of 132 "serious mortuary incidents" that had been reported between 2002 and 2013 by the NHS, nine of those cases were wrong bodies buried.
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