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Mortuary mixes up bodies; family buries wrong woman

March 12, 2013 |  6:09 pm

A South Los Angeles family who held a funeral for and buried the wrong woman after a mix-up by the mortuary plans to hold another ceremony this week.

Evans Davidson, 74, told employees of Simpson Family Mortuary in Inglewood on March 1 that the woman in the casket did not look like his wife, but his concerns were dismissed and he was informed that “people’s features will change at death,” his attorney, Jeffrey E. Zinder, said Tuesday.

Despite their hesitation, Davidson and his family continued with the open-casket viewing and funeral, to which they had invited 150 guests, the attorney said. Five days later, the mortuary called the family and alerted them to the mistake.

“The mortuary has told us that the mistake occurred because the bodies were so similar,” Zinder said. “That excuse is absolute lunacy. And it’s evidence of the arrogance of the mortuary in not listening to the Davidson family, who they dismissed as being too emotionally upset to credibly be able to identify their own loved one.”

Davidson, a retired oil rig worker, his four children and 15 grandchildren have been distraught since the news and have had trouble coping, Zinder said.

The body, said to be that of Darlene Davidson, who died at 82 of heart failure secondary to chemo-dialysis, was buried in Davidson’s wig as well as the dress she wore to her granddaughter’s wedding. The mix-up was not discovered until another family pointed out that they had been presented with the wrong body, Zinder said.

The attorney said the mortuary has refused to release the name of the other family. Simpson Family Mortuary officials did not return calls for comment from The Times.

Zinder said he had spoken to several people who attended the viewing who said they questioned whether it was actually Davidson in the casket but didn’t want to cause grief or embarrassment should their suspicions be wrong.

Simpson Family Mortuary has agreed to cover all costs associated with the burial at Roosevelt Memorial Park in Gardena, which will be part of a small, private ceremony this week, Zinder said. 

Zinder said it was too early to determine if a lawsuit will be filed against the mortuary, but the state Cemetery and Funeral Bureau had launched its own investigation.   


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-- Corina Knoll