The mothers of two teens who died in a car crash last summer in Florida allege that authorities misidentified their daughters’ bodies — leading one of the girls to have her organs incorrectly removed for donation.
The suits were filed this past Thursday by Ranada Cooks and Tammy Gibson against the Florida Highway Patrol, as well as the two funeral homes and the local medical examiner, according to the Associated Press and the Pensacola News Journal.
They allege the bodies of Deleigha “Leigha” Gibson, 18, and 15-year-old Samara Cooks were misidentified as each other and the funeral home employees attempted to fix the mistake without letting the families know.
The families also said there were not allowed to see their girls’ bodies, which would have allowed them to correct the mistake.
Leigha and Samara were killed in a July 29 crash involving two of their close friends in the Pensacola area according to the AP.
The girl’s parents described the group as the “Four Amingos” and said they were driving around 1:30 a.m. when their vehicle veered off the road, hit a utility pole and skidded into the trees.
The teenager’s mother filed lawsuits in Escambia County Circuit Court after they said they discovered that the bodies of their daughters were wrongly tagged by authorities prior to being released to the funeral homes, according to Pensacola News Journal.
“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 shared with ABC News.
The lawsuit names the FHP, the Escambia County Coroner, the Escambia County Medical Examiner’s Office, the FHP Pensacola district commander and two funeral homes as defendants.
In addition, the mothers also allege that the medical examiner at the time “did not enforce appropriate policies and procedures,” according to CBS News.
Medical examiner staff also reportedly “extracted several organs from the body of Samara Cooks, who was not an organ donor.”
A representative from the Florida Highway Patrol told the News Journal they could not comment on “pending litigation” but “the Florida Highway Patrol extends its deepest condolences to the families for their tragic loss.”
According to the Journal, the families of the girls are currently seeking a jury trial and financial compensation for the loss of “enjoyment of life” as well as for the immense distress caused by the situation.
“We are just trying to get everything right and give her a proper burial,” Demetrius Gibson, Leigha’s father, said in an interview Friday per the AP.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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