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article imageOhio coroner's office cremates wrong toddler

By Kim I. Hartman     May 24, 2010 in World
Columbus - An Ohio Coroner's Office once again mixed up two bodies. Grieving parents, who had picked out a white tuxedo to bury their son were visited by the Coroner Sunday and given the devastating news "their baby boy had mistakenly been cremated."
For the second time in recent months, the wrong person in Ohio has been cremated after a mix-up at the Franklin County Coroner's Office. This time it was the body of a toddler that was cremated after a mistake by a technician.
Investigators said an employee at the Franklin County Coroner's Office failed to follow procedure, and incorrectly released the remains of 14-month old Jaylen Talley to the wrong funeral home.
According to a statement issued Monday by Franklin County Coroner Dr. Jan M. Gorniak, the employee in question was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation into the matter.
Family members said 14-month old Jaylen Talley died earlier this month as a result of complications from undiagnosed heart defect. Marco Talley, the boy's father, said the family was planning to bury the boy, but on Sunday afternoon Gorniak showed up at his home and said there had been a mix-up.
Jaylen Talley's body was picked up from the coroner's office last Wednesday and taken to the wrong funeral home, where it was mistaken for another child's remains and cremated, 10TV News reported.
The Franklin County Coroner said the error was complicated by the funeral home and crematory, which also failed to follow proper identification procedures prior to cremation.
Jaylen's maternal grandmother, Paula Hall, said the child's parents are in shock.
"They've been up all night crying. It's crazy. It's like we lost him all over again," Hall said. Gorniak visited the family's East Side home about 5 p.m. yesterday with a representative of the Marlan Gary Funeral Home Chapel of Peace.
"So he comes in and starts telling us the horror story," Hall said. "He said he had a funeral service for a child the night before, and that child was cremated.
"And that child was Jaylen."
The family of the other baby, Hall said, probably didn't realize their child wasn't at his own funeral. Gorniak said she hasn't talked yet with the family of the other baby. The forensic technician is on paid leave and faces possible firing reports The Columbus Dispatch.
In March, the Digital Journal reported the bodies of two men from Indiana killed in a plane crash in Union County were incorrectly identified. That mistake led to the wrong man being cremated, the other being sent to an out of state mausoleum.
"I am truly sorry this happened," Gorniak said today. "I know sorry isn't enough. I will be reviewing our policy just to ensure no other family will be affected. My heart aches."
She said her office has rules to prevent such a mistake. Her forensic technician and the funeral home worker are required to open body bags and look at the body. They must also match toe and ankle identification tags to the name on the release-authorization form, signed by the family.
Jalen, who had a history of breathing problems, died Tuesday at Nationwide Children's Hospital after his father summoned 911. Marco Talley tried to unsuccessfully resuscitate his son. The toddler also is survived by his mother, Jamere Sydnor, two sisters and a brother.
"He was a little man," Hall said. "Jalen was a happy baby. He was always smiling."
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