CHEHALIS, Wash. – A day after a report that a funeral home in Chehalis mixed up the bodies of two dead men, another family came forward complaining about a mix-up at the home.
The story of Jerry Moon – who was mistakenly cremated after he died at a hospice center – brought back terrible memories for Tracey Scott and Carrie Hammond.
That's because they had their own awful experience at Brown Mortuary, they say.
“I’ve been really, really sick (about it) for a couple days,” Scott said. “It’s the most hurtful thing there is, to walk in and see somebody else’s body laying there. That should never happen. Never.
“We feel their pain. We know their pain and we care. These kind of mistakes just can’t happen.”
Scott is the mother and Hammond is the sister of Christina Hammond, who died when her heart stopped during 2007 gall-bladder surgery.
They said the nightmare of her sudden death somehow became even worse thanks to mistakes by Brown – the same mortuary involved in Moon’s case.
When the family arrived at Brown, they said, they were greeted by a horrible sight.
“We went to the funeral home and the guy who worked there was just very arrogant and he just wasn’t kind and he had no compassion and it was just kind of a joke to him,” Scott said.
“My mom and I went in and looked at my daughter, and she had blood running down her face and onto her shirt. I went in and got the guy and he just laughed it off.”
It got worse. The family said when they got Christina’s ashes back, they also got back a bag of jewelry.
The jewelry didn’t belong to her.
“It just makes you wonder - did we get the right ashes?” Scott said. “Did we get somebody else? Did we get - did we just get somebody else's jewelry or did we get somebody else's remains?”
That would mean, of course, that another family didn’t get back a loved one’s jewelry. Scott said she sent a letter of complaint to Dignity Memorial – the parent company of Brown Mortuary – but didn’t hear back.
Beyond that, nobody knew who to complain to.
Officials from the Washington Department of Licensing and the Washington Funeral and Cemetery Board were unavailable for comment on Wednesday.
Christina Hammond’s family said they’d like someone to be held accountable for both incidents.
"I never had been to a funeral before, so I didn’t know what a body was supposed to look like,” Carrie Hammond said. “But I knew it wasn’t supposed to look like that. They did a horrible job. It’s like a nightmare. That’s all you see. The viewing is supposed to have closure, and when a body looks that way … it’s no good.
“I realize that people make mistakes, but you cannot mess up like that.”