Funeral home feeling the heat after cremating wrong body.
New Orleans coroner Dr. Frank Minyard took responsibility Wednesday for the mistaken cremation of a 20-year-old shooting victim.
"I am not going to deny responsibility for this. This was a horrible error on my part, my office's part," Minyard said. "It was something that has never happened before."
Minyard said several mistakes led to the wrongful cremation of Ralph Bias, who was killed in a drive-by shooting on the Pontchartrain Expressway last week.
He said his office, the funeral home and the crematorium all failed to follow proper procedures.
Attorney Regina Wedig, who represents the Heritage Funeral Home that released Bias' body to the crematorium, did not admit any wrongdoing.
She said the funeral home is still investigating what happened.
Allain Hardin, attorney for Bias' family, said Ralph Bias' body was released to Heritage by mistake.
The family made the discovery last Friday when the funeral home they hired, Little John's, went to pick up the body and was told it was missing.
Hardin said beyond the mix-up at the coroner's office, he believes the cremation was mishandled.
He said cremation law requires the funeral home to have a final identification by a family member or representative of the family before the body is incinerated.
Hardin said that never happened.
"I never got to see my son. I never got to say goodbye," said Michelle Bias, the victim's mother.
Minyard said the mix-up happened, in part, because his office stores so many bodies, an average of 80 per day.
He said sometimes they have to stack bodies on top of one another.
Minyard said that while he does not want to use the incident to make the case for a new facility, he said if he had been given the new building he was promised, this likely could have been avoided.