Tire Accident Foul-Up: Victim Reported Killed Is Alive, While One Believed Alive Is Dead

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Posted on 26th July 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A young Arizona woman, a passenger in an SUV, was killed when the vehicle’s tire blew out and it flipped over. But the accident caused even more heartache than it had to when authorities screwed up and misidentified the woman’s body, telling  the family of a teen-aged girl who actually survived the crash that she had died at the scene.

http://www.aolnews.com/health/article/abby-guerra-reported-dead-in-crash-discovered-to-be-alive-in-hospital/19567634?ncid=webmail

Humans are fallible and make mistakes, but one would hope that this kind of situation wouldn’t happen. But it has happened before. I have encountered such a mix-up in my own practice, so I know it does occur. occur.

In this instance, the relatives and friends of Abby Guerra, 19, a soccery star from Glendale, Ariz., were told by authorities that she had died in the SUV accident July 18. But in fact Guerra was lying in a hospital alive. Officials had mistakenly identified the deceased victim, who was actually Marlena Cantu, 21.

Abby did sustain serious head injuries, but she’s alive. So now her family can end their mourning and stop making funeral plans, and hope she recovers. But the Cantu family, which has been keeping watch over Abby at the hospital, believing she was their daughter Marlena, are now the ones that will have to mourn and make arrangements.

Guerra, who has a soccer scholarship to the University of Evansville in Indiana, and Cantu were returning from a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., when the SUV’s left-rear tire blew out. There were three other passengers in the vehicle with them.

Tyler Parker, 20, died the next day at a Phoenix hospital. The two other passengers, including misidentified Guerra, were also taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, undergoing treatment for serious head wounds. She is in critical condition after sustaining brain injury, a broken back and a collapsed lung. Her face was so banged up, she was virtually unrecognizable. She had black eyes and her face was swollen. She had undegone brain surgery, so her head was shaved.

Unfortunately, her future as a soccer player appears dim at this point, but at least she is alive.

The misidentification was made because officials announced that Guerra was dead before the medical examiner’s office had a chance to compare medical records for a positive ID. That record check didn’t take place until a week after the accident.

St. Joseph’s said that its doctor shortage and huge volume of patients is what delayed the medical record comparison.

I’m sure that’s little solace to the Guerra and Cantu families.        

 


Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

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