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After The Funeral, Man Gets A Call From Son He Thought He Just Buried

A California family got word from local authorities that a member of the family was found dead in front of a cell phone store. Police said they identified the man by his fingerprints, and the grieving family went on to hold a funeral and burial. A month later, they got a phone call, but it wasn't from beyond the grave.

Frank Kerrigan, 81, thought he had buried his son in that plot next to his late wife a couple of weeks earlier. He had been going through the grieving process for his eldest son, 57-year-old Francis Kerrigan. Francis, who is mentally ill, is homeless by choice but occasionally keeps in touch with his family.

The elder Kerrigan got a phone call one day that turned everything in his life upside-down. "Are you sitting down? Frankie is alive," said a member of the family.

Kerrigan couldn't even get his bearings before he got to hear the voice of the son who he thought was recently deceased.

"Hi, Dad, how are you doing?" Francis said.

As it turns out, Francis had no idea that his family thought he was dead. He had been going about his business when he stopped to visit a friend of the family. The friend happened to be a pallbearer at the funeral parlor where the Kerrigan family thought they held Francis's funeral. The pallbearer realized a terrible mistake had been made, and helped Francis get in touch with Frank right away.

"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," said Frank.

The family blames authorities, who told the elder Mr. Kerrigan that they had verified Francis was dead through fingerprints. Frank even offered to come identify the body, but authorities told him that he didn't have to do that. He was told he couldn't claim the body until after an autopsy was completed.

"As soon as they said that it was by his fingerprints, that was the dagger in my heart," Kerrigan said.

Carole Meikel, Francis's 56-year-old sister, is demanding answers. "This was just blatant disregard because he was homeless, just a throwaway," she said.

After authorities told Frank that they identified the victim through fingerprints, they told Meikel they had his ID. It turns out they used old Department of Motor Vehicle photos.

The family hired an attorney who is suing Orange County on their behalf. The lawyer says that Francis's civil rights have been violated, and the family has suffered undue emotional distress because of the mix-up. On top of that, Francis's disability payments were stopped because he was labeled 'deceased', and it's a hassle trying to correct the records.

The lawsuit alleges that the coroner did not "follow proper protocols and precautions in the identification process."

Source: CNN
Photo: CNN Screenshot

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