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Woman Thought Killed in Fire Is Alive

December 30, 2003

GLOUCESTER, Mass. (AP) _ A woman believed to have died after a house fire has been discovered alive in a Boston hospital.

Relatives of Susan Anderson had already had the body they believed was hers cremated, and they had arranged for her obituary to appear Monday in The Gloucester Times.

``I’m just as numb as when I received the news that she died, but happily numbed this time,″ Anderson’s stepmother, Dorothy Ramsey Stoffa, told the newspaper.

Anderson, 38, was thought to be the sole victim of the fire. Instead, authorities now say she was misidentified as 45-year-old Anne Goyette.

Both women, found in the same room of the burned home, were taken to Addison Gilbert Hospital, where one was declared dead. The other was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.

Until Sunday, that patient was listed as Anne Goyette. But a visiting family member notified hospital officials it was not her, police said.

A hospital spokeswoman said Anderson was released Monday.

``I feel very, very sincerely bad that they had to go through this,″ said Gloucester Police Chief Michael McLeod. ``I think it was an honest mistake. I don’t know where it occurred, but I want to get some answers.″

McLeod said it appeared the misidentification may have happened after one of the two men also injured in the fire identified the survivor as Goyette.

Authorities have not confirmed Goyette was the person killed in the fire.

Christine Cole, a spokeswoman for the office that oversees the medical examiner, declined comment on the case, citing an investigation by the Essex district attorney.

Bill Melconian, a spokesman for the district attorney, declined comment.

Attempts to reach Goyette were unsuccessful. A phone number for a family of that name in Gloucester had been disconnected; messages left at another listing in Rockport were not immediately returned.

Update hourly