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Parents Wrongly Informed Of Daughter’s Death Due To Mistaken Identity

October 3, 1993

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) _ Rose and Joseph Thompson got the worst news parents can imagine: a phone call informing them their daughter had died in a car crash.

As they were driving to New Jersey to identify the body, however, they learned their daughter, Sharon, was alive - there had been a mistaken identification.

″It was such a terrible, horrendous nightmare,″ Rose Thompson, 68, said.

Sharon’s roommate, Mary Poxon, borrowed her car to drive to work Wednesday and was killed when it crashed into a telephone pole.

Police found Sharon’s registration in the car, and went to her home in Tuckerton, N.J., to interview neighbors.

Sharon Thompson, 40, and Poxon, 38, had similar body builds, hair, and eye color, leading the medical examiner and police to conclude it was Sharon who died.

Her parents were notified, and after a few calls to family members, the couple began the 27-hour drive to New Jersey.

When their daughter returned home from work Wednesday night and learned of the mix-up, she called her parents, but they had already left.

Police in seven states were on the lookout for the Thompsons’ car, but it was their phone call from a Virginia coffee shop that straightened things out.

″I was frantic until they called, because I knew how hysterical they were driving,″ their daughter said.

She said that authorities didn’t mention a distinctive tattoo on Poxon’s arm when describing the body to her relatives. Poxon also had a checkbook in the car.

New Jersey authorities say they’re sorry about the mix-up but don’t believe their employees were negligent.

″This situation is so bizarre - I’ve never seen anything like it,″ Galloway Township Police Lt. Charles Bellino said. ″The similarities between the two women were so striking, and none of the neighbors mentioned she had a roommate.″