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Teen Victims’ Identities Switched; Families File Lawsuit

March 11, 2020

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FL- writes that two teens were killed in a car crash last year in Florida on Highway 95A. The two girls were passengers at the time of the wreck; they were eighteen and fifteen years old. Despite having different weights, heights, and being three years apart in age, the Florida Highway Patrol confused their bodies at the scene of the collision and misidentified them.*

The bodies of the deceased teens were then sent to the Coroner and then to the Medical Examiner. The Medical Examiner’s office has a policy in place where they do not permit viewing of bodies in their facility, and the Examiner also failed to verify the identities, leading to the two victims remaining misidentified. 

The Examiner then sent the bodies to the funeral homes, where they were embalmed without the proper instructions from the families. It was not until one of the families arrived at the funeral home that they discovered the mistake. 

An additional complication was uncovered as well because one of the teens was an organ donor, and the other was not. The wrong teen’s organs were harvested, without the consent of her family, and the teen who was a donor’s organs were not preserved. 

The error has impacted the families who stated that they feel they were not able to mourn the loss of their loved ones. 

Both families are demanding that the policies of the Florida Highway Patrol, Coroners Office, and the Medical Examiners office be evaluated and changed in order to prevent causing families additional trauma after the initial tragedy. Police stated that multiple ejections occurred, making the identifications challenging. 

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Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.