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‘Dad, that’s not grandma’ – Family discovers wrong woman in coffin

24 March 2016, 14:23

New York - “We all did a double-take,” said the son of an 81-year-old US woman, after the wrong body was put in his mother’s coffin and subsequently cremated.

Members of a New York family were taken aback during the open-casket viewing of their grandmother, Val-Jean McDonald, after they saw drastic “changes” to her appearance, The New York Times reported this week.

Val-Jean passed away in December last year after a long battle with cancer, and left behind eight sons and 20 grandchildren, AP reported.

One son, Errol McDonald, was confused as to why all her hair was cut off. Another son, Richard said the family did a double take on first viewing, but assumed it was the effect of the cancer.

But it took one of the grandchildren, Errol’s 10-year-old son, to call it as he saw it: “Dad, that’s not Grandma.”

The family put it down to the changing effects on the body post-mortem, and Val-Jean was cremated the next day, The Guardian reported.

However, McCall’s Bronxwood Funeral Home called a third son Darryl six days later to explain that there had been a mistake.

'Your mother is still here'

The funeral home discovered the error after they discovered Val-Jean’s body still at the morgue.

"That body was not your mother," they told the family. "Your mother is still here."

Darryl said the family were angry, and never suspected that a funeral parlour could make such a mistake.

The brothers scheduled another cremation at Woodlawn on January 9, where only four family members attended.

The owner of the funeral parlour declined to comment, but pointed to 50 years of service in the business.

New York’s Division of Cemeteries is investigating the case.

- News24

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