Cops Inform Wrong Parents Son Is Dead

They were kind of surprised when he answered the door
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2014 6:52 AM CDT
Cops Inform Wrong Parents Son Is Dead
Justin Priest holds his 9-week-old yellow lab, Lily, in Anchorage.   (AP Photo/The Alaska Dispatch News, Bill Roth))

The parents of Justin Priest were in agony after learning their son had just been killed in a car crash, and they drove to the home of his longtime girlfriend to deliver the news in person. Thus, as Alaska Dispatch News explains, they were more than a little surprised when their not-dead son answered the door himself. "There are no words," mom Karen Priest tells AP after the epic screw-up by police. "We just kept staring at him." It seems that after the crash, local officers and state troopers got their signals crossed—a different Justin Priest had died. But a trooper went to the home of Karen and Jay Priest and delivered the devastating, though incorrect, news after a 3am knock on the door. Jay Priest even called Juneau police to confirm, and an officer there said it was true.

The Priests then set about calling out-of-state relatives and drove to Anchorage to inform another son, Cody. After that, they drove to the home of Justin's girlfriend, knocked on the door—and greeted their surprised son. “I was shocked and astonished and had to keep grabbing him and hugging him,” Jay Priest recalls. "The saddest day became the happiest." As for 29-year-old Justin, he says the happiness is offset with thoughts of the family of the other Justin Priest, and he tells CNN he hopes some good can come of the ordeal. "We wanted to put a little pressure on the police department to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again," he says. "And I think we achieved our goal." (In Colorado, a father who visits his son's grave learned that he had been going to the wrong one for years.)

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