A man mistakenly buried by a grieving family after a blunder by the Orange County Coroner’s Office has been positively identified through fingerprints, authorities said Monday.
However, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which includes the Coroner, declined to release the man’s name.
“The Coroner Division is attempting to locate and notify family,” Sheriff’s Department Lt. Lane Lagaret said in a prepared statement. “Until his family can be found or all efforts are exhausted, his body will remain interred at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery.”
Such precautions might have prevented the mistaken death notice received last month by Frank J. Kerrigan, of Wildomar, who on May 6 was told that his son, Frank M. Kerrigan, had been found dead behind a Verizon store in Fountain Valley. The elder Kerrigan and family held a $20,000 funeral in Orange for the younger Kerrigan, who is homeless. However, 11 days after the funeral, the younger Kerrigan, 57, turned up alive at the home of a friend, stunning his family.
The elder Kerrigan, 82, said Monday he’s glad the county has identified the man buried in his son’s grave, so that the man’s family “can do as they wish with his remains.”
The Kerrigan family’s ordeal centered on mistake about the use of fingerprint identification. The county believed such an identification had been made when it notified the elder Kerrigan about the death of his son, but that later turned out to be inaccurate. The Coroner’s Office since has admitted it mistakenly identified the body but hasn’t provided details how the mix-up occurred.
“Upon being made aware that an error was made was, the staff at the Coroner Division have worked diligently to rectify the situation,” Lagaret said. “The department has opened an internal investigation into the misidentification of the decedent to determine the cause of the error and will look at the policy to determine if changes need to be made.
“Due to the investigation and…