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Medical Examiner’s office cremated wrong person: report

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jun 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-16 18:46:06-04

NEW YORK (PIX11) —  Many unclaimed bodies buried  on Hart Island in the Bronx perhaps don’t belong there or perhaps they were misplaced.

The blame according to a recent report is landing Chief Medical Examiner’s office.

One unclaimed body  was accidentally cremated, when instead someone else with the same last name was supposed to be cremated.

In another situation, a body was sent to a local medical college for dissection for students. Luckily, that mistake caught in time and the body was returned to the ME’s office before any cuts were made.

Charles Eric Gordon, an investigative attorney who often acts as a consultant for these kinds of cases, sat down with PIX11 Monday.

Gordon says he knows of at least 26 instances in which the ME’s office did not properly make an attempt to notify family.

He adds that he believes there are more cases out there — all because there seems to be horrendous record keeping.

“This is no way for somebody to end up. If somebody wants to donate their body to science that’s their business . It shouldn’t be decided [for me],” Gordon said. “If somebody wants to be cremated then they should be cremated under the right name and not the wrong name.”

In a statement, the Medical Examiner’s office said in part, “We are aggressively evaluating our mortuary operations citywide for quality assurance and quality control purposes, including comprehensive root causes analyses. We cannot comment further at this time.”

On Tuesday, the family of Aura Ballesteros, whose body was taken to a medical school without consent, will be speaking to PIX11.