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Local funeral home overbooked, families have nowhere to mourn

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — Losing a loved one is hard enough, but facing an overbooked funeral home in the aftermath of the loss makes the situation even worse.

Eleuterio Gonzalez died in Philadelphia and a wake was supposed to be held at Ortiz Funeral Home. (Gonzalez Family)

A mixup at Ortiz Funeral Home in Washington Heights has devastated the Gonzalez family. Eleuterio Gonzalez died in Philadelphia and a wake was supposed to be held at Ortiz Funeral Home. His children were told just an hour before the 4 p.m. scheduled wake that the funeral home was overbooked.

More than 200 relatives and friends were already en route to pay their final respects.

"It's disrespectful what they're doing to my family and to my father," said Jonathan Gonzalez. "It's disrespectful."

His father's body didn't arrive until 7 p.m., Gonzalez said.

"All this chaos going on, I can't even process it," Eleurys Gonzalez said.

Ortiz staff was able to fold the wake Wednesday night after a lot of back and forth with the family, but the Gonzalez family says it was held in a much small room than planned. There was also no air conditioning.

Eleuterio Gonzalez was supposed to be flown from the funeral home to to the Dominican Republic Thursday for his burial. His children say the funeral home changed the flight to Friday without notifying them of the change.

At least 50 family members are booked on a flight to the Dominican Republic expecting the burial Thursday. They're now scrambling to change their flights, not to mention work schedules.

"They haven't given us an apology, nothing," Jonathan Gonzalez said.