In today's world, most people have come to expect a certain level of ignorance and aggravation. We assume that the cable guy will be three hours late, if he shows up at all; we aren't surprised when the insurance company tries to screw us out of our medical coverage. We tolerate these little setbacks and indignities every single day, because we know that when it comes to the issues that are really critical -- matters of life and death -- the people we depend on will come through for us.
After all, this is the 21st century. Plumbers may still let their buttcracks hang out, but they also have a lot of fancy new gadgets to help them fix the sink, right?
So forgive me, readers, but I'm going to need a little help understanding how a coroner manages to misidentify the dead. Not because I assume it is an easy job, but because I expect the individual that declares a 22-year-old girl died in a car crash to have checked his work before destroying her family with the news.
So here's the story (via the Washington Post): [Laura] VanRyn, 22, and [Whitney] Cerak were among 10 students and staff members riding in a university van when it was hit by a tractor-trailer that crossed the median of Interstate 69 on April 26. Five people were killed, including a woman everyone thought was Cerak.
VanRyn's relatives stood vigil at the woman's bed at a rehabilitation center in Grand Rapids. The family kept a blog in which they detailed the many small steps she made toward recovery: feeding herself applesauce, playing Connect Four with a therapist.
But as her condition improved, the two families gradually realized that the young woman was not VanRyn after all.
She replied "Whitney" several times in recent days after VanRyn's parents addressed her as "Laura," Spectrum Health spokeswoman Anne Veltema said. During a recent therapy session, staff members asked her to write her name, and she scrawled "Whitney Cerak."
The Grant County, Ind., coroner's office apologized for the error on Wednesday. Coroner Ron Mowery said students had identified the survivor as VanRyn but no scientific testing was conducted.
Call me naive, but in an accident involving so many victims, isn't "better safe than sorry" a wiser policy? The story does not indicate whether or not the girls shared the same blood type, only that both were blond and had similar features.
One thing is certain: Because the good doc decided to leave the DNA testing to Maury Povich and Jerry Springer, the VanRyn family will have to exhume and re-inter their daughter, Laura, after five weeks of waiting to bring her home. In the meantime, Mowery might want to consider a career change. We hear the cable company is hiring.