Man buries son then receives phone call saying he's still alive

Father Buries Wrong Man After Coroner's Mistake

Frank Kerrigan, 82, got a phone call that day from the Orange County coroner saying that his 57-year-old son, also named Frank, had died next to a Verizon store in Fountain Valley. Kerrigan asked if he needed to identify the body, but was told it was unnecessary because they ID'd the younger Kerrigan via his fingerprints.

Eleven days later, Kerrigan's friend called to say his son was alive.

"Bill put my son on the phone", Kerrigan reacted.

In what appears to be a case of mistaken identity, Frank Kerrigan has been put through the mental grinder after having been told that of his son's recent purported death. She rushed to the Verizon store and was directed to a spot near some bushes where his body was reported to have been found. She left a candle, flowers, a rosary from her daughter's kindergarten graduation and a framed photograph of her brother, with a note that said "your family loves you".

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.

The mistake because apparent when the man thought to be dead arrived at the home of a family friend who had attended the funeral.

After the services, the body was interred at the Cemetery of the Holy Sepulchre 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.

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


The family is now in the process of re-applying for Social Security benefits that were cut off once the federal government was informed that Kerrigan was dead.

The coroner failed to "follow proper protocols and precautions in the identification process" because Kerrigan was homeless, Easton said in an email to CNN.

Upon hearing the saddening news, Frank Jr's sister Carole Meikle went to the scene where her brother's body had apparently been found. "Someone else had a attractive send off".

Lagaret said in a statement Saturday that the Orange County Sheriff's Department is conducting an internal investigation into the mix-up and that all identification policies and procedures will be reviewed to ensure no misidentifications occur in the future.

Kerrigan's family plans to sue the department for failing to make an adequate effort to identify the body correctly, according to the Register. He was mentally ill and refused to stay in a shelter, they said.

They hired attorneys Douglas and Brian Easton of Easton & Easton LLP in Costa Mesa to file a claim alleging the coroner was negligent. On top of that, since Kerrigan was declared dead, Social Security and disability payments are being withheld, so now the family has to try to get those restored as well.

"We lived through our worst fear", she said, adding that her brother does not grasp the magnitude of the incident. 'He was dead on the sidewalk.

He has since returned to the streets, unaware of all that has happened.

"It feels like a miracle that my son is actually alive, but that does not take away the pain and grief we've gone through since this ordeal began", he told CNN.

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