Parents sue police after daughters’ bodies are mixed up

Police car. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)
Police car. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

The families of teenagers who died in a car crash are seeking answers and justice after their daughters’ bodies allegedly got “mixed up” and one of the girls’ organs were removed for donation.

According to ABC News, the accident, which involved four friends, happened in the city of Pensacola in Florida in the US last July.

“The Four Amigos, as the girls’ parents described the group, were driving around 1.30am when their vehicle veered off the road, hit a pole and skidded into trees,” People said.

Two of the friends, “Leigha” Gibson (18) and Samara Cooks (15), were pronounced dead at the scene.

Samara’s mom, Ranada, believes that the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) incorrectly tagged her daughter’s body at the accident scene.

“Samara Cooks was incorrectly tagged as Deleigha,” she told NBC News.

Ranada is now suing FHP, the primary law enforcement agency charged with investigating traffic crashes and criminal laws on the state’s highways.

She has also filed a lawsuit against the coroner, the medical examiner and two funeral parlours.

“Despite their age difference and different physical characteristics, according to the lawsuits their identities were switched,” a report said. 

The families also claim they weren’t allowed to see their daughters and that funeral home employees tried to rectify the mistake without letting the families know.

Ranada says she discovered the blunder when she asked a local funeral home if she could see her daughter’s remains before laying her to rest, only to learn the corpse wasn’t actually Samara.

“That’s when I noticed that it was not Samara and it was a mix-up,” she told the outlet.

“I was thinking, ‘Well, maybe there’s a chance that she’s still alive’.”

Ramada says she hasn’t found rest since.

“I walked in to see my daughter, and I saw Tammy’s daughter. Precious moments were taken away from us that we deserved to have,” Ranada told ABC News.

She also believes that the medical examiner didn’t “enforce appropriate policies and procedures,” according to CBS News.

“The medical examiner staff also allegedly extracted several organs from the body of Samara Cooks, who was not an organ donor,” the report said.

It said the “unauthorised invasion of her daughter's body has caused Ranada extreme stress and anxiety".

FHP said, "due to potential pending litigation, no further details will be released at this time”.

FHP also expressed its condolences to the families, who are seeking a jury trial and financial compensation for the loss and suffering caused by the situation, according to People.

“We are just trying to get everything right and give her a proper burial,” Deleigha's father, Demetrius, told AP.

The families are waiting for a trial date to be set.

Sources: AP, ABC News, People, NBC News, CBS News
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