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California father buries wrong man after coroner’s mistake

SANTA ANA, Calif.  — Eleven days after laying his son to rest, Frank J. Kerrigan got a call from a friend.

“Your son is alive,” he said.

“Bill (Shinker) put my son on the phone,” Kerrigan said. “He said ‘Hi Dad.’ “

Orange County coroner’s officials had misidentified the body, the Orange County Register reported Friday.

The mix-up began on May 6 when a man was found dead behind a Verizon store in Fountain Valley.

Kerrigan, 82, of Wildomar, said he called the coroner’s office and was told the body was that of his son, Frank M. Kerrigan, 57, who is mentally ill and had been living on the street.

When he asked whether he should identify the body, a woman said — apparently incorrectly — that identification had been made through fingerprints.

“When somebody tells me my son is dead, when they have fingerprints, I believe them,” Kerrigan said. “If he wasn’t identified by fingerprints I would been there in heartbeat.”

Frank’s sister, 56-year-old Carole Meikle of Silverado, went to the spot where he died to leave a photo of him, a candle, flowers and rosary beads.

“It was a very difficult situation for me to stand at a pretty disturbing scene. There was blood and dirty blankets,” she said.