Misidentified Body Causes Grief
Misidentified Body Causes Grief
Dec. 02, 1997
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Kathy Getty spent Thanksgiving weekend sitting by the bedside of a critically injured girl she thought was her daughter, only to find out the hospital had misidentified the girl.
Her 16-year-old daughter, Tiffany, was dead. The girl in the hospital was her daughter's best friend, also named Tiffany.
``I go in and see this child and pray for her and give her love and attention, and then four days later they tell me it's not my baby,'' Mrs. Getty said this morning. ``I have a live, comatose daughter and then they shock the hell out of me by saying she's been dead. This is so horrible.''
The hospitalized girl is 14-year-old Tiffany Moshier, who was with Mrs. Getty's daughter in a pickup truck that smashed head on into another pickup last week.
Miss Moshier, who suffered facial injuries and was unable to speak until Sunday, has improved and was in fair condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville today.
Mrs. Getty has spent the last two days planning a funeral, while the Moshier family canceled the service planned for their daughter.
Shell Irwin, Miss Moshier's aunt, flew to Tennessee from Kansas City expecting to attend her niece's funeral. She's now at her bedside.
``It makes you believe in miracles,'' Ms. Irwin said Monday.
How the mixup in identifications occurred still is being investigated by the hospital. Tiffany Moshier is petite and dark-haired, while Tiffany Getty was blond and several inches taller.
``This has never happened before,'' said Dr. Corey Slovis, head of the emergency room. ``In retrospect, now that it has happened, we're going to have to rethink our whole procedure.''
The two girls from Franklin were passengers in a pickup truck that crossed the center line and crashed head-on into another pickup Wednesday afternoon.
A third passenger, James Felts, also died. The driver, 20-year-old William Nesmith, was in fair condition. The driver of the other pickup and his passenger received minor injuries.
The mixup occurred when one of Nesmith's relatives, who said he was a friend of both girls, misidentified them in the emergency room.
Initial identification can be done by anyone, Slovis said. But that ID would not be used to make a decision on operating or for serious medical questions.
On Sunday _ the same day Miss Moshier's death announcement appeared in The Tennessean newspaper _ staff removed the tube from her throat and asked her who she was.
Miss Moshier's parents canceled the funeral scheduled for Monday at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home.
Funeral home director David Stephens said that Giselle Moshier told him on Friday that she did not believe the body at the funeral home was her daughter's.
``She said her daughter would have had to have changed clothes because the clothing and jewelry we returned to her were not her daughter's,'' he told The Tennessean newspaper.
The next morning, her husband, Bruce Moshier, looked at the body and agreed it was not his daughter.
``Somebody made a terrible mistake,'' said Clyde Stephens, the funeral home owner.
He said the body of the girl brought to the funeral home had significant facial injuries. In many such cases, funeral directors will use makeup or reconstruct the face based on a photograph. But in this case, the injuries were too severe, he said.
``She had so many facial injuries, we knew a picture wasn't going to help us,'' Stephens said.
James Omer Jr., a lawyer for the Moshiers, criticized the hospital and medical examiner for failing to ask a family member to identify the dead girl.
Meantime, Mrs. Getty continues to grieve.
``I am going to get to the bottom of where she's been and why nobody asked be to identify the body,'' she said. ``Nobody should have to go through what I've been through.''