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  1. #1
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    Taylor Univ Crash Victim Misidentified 5 Weeks Ago

    From http://woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=4970564

    GRAND RAPIDS -- Another case of mistaken identity has brought joy to one family, but sorrow to another.

    The family of Laura VanRyn of Caledonia was notified their daughter, thought to be emerging from a coma after an accident along I-69 in Marion, Indiana, actually died at the scene of the crash five weeks ago.

    Her friend Whitney Cerak was misidentified as Laura, and is convalescing at a Grand Rapids hospital.

    VanRyn and Cerak were students at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana and were traveling with other members of the dining services staff after setting up a university banquet. In all, five students and staff were killed in the crash.

    The Grant County (Indiana) Coroner's Office informed Taylor University of the mistaken identity this morning.

    It was believed VanRyn survived in critical condition and was airlifted to Parkview Hospital. In fact, it was Cerak who was airlifted and is now in a Spectrum facility.

  2. #2
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    Wouldn't the family members who went to be by her side for the last five weeks have known which kid it was????

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeana (DP)
    Wouldn't the family members who went to be by her side for the last five weeks have known which kid it was????

    One would assume...

  4. #4
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    More details from http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/in...990.xml&coll=6 (might need to enter a zip code--real or fake--to access the full story)

    GRAND RAPIDS -- In a case of mistaken identity, a Caledonia college student believed to have survived a bus crash last month actually died in the accident, and a Gaylord woman presumed to be dead is in a Grand Rapids hospital being treated for head wounds.

    The Taylor University student, Whitney E. Cerak, 18, recently came out of a coma at Spectrum Health's Butterworth Campus, where parents of Laura J. VanRyn of Caledonia have maintained a vigil since the April 26 crash.

    Spectrum spokesman Bruce Rossman said today that VanRyn's family became concerned after some statements made by Cerak when she emerged from the coma.
    "As Whitney continued to heal from her injuries and became more conscious of her surroundings, her comments led the VanRyns to doubt that she was their daughter Laura," reads a statement released by both families through the hospital.

    "The VanRyns brought their concerns to Continuing Care staff, who initiated an exam of dental records. By late Tuesday evening it was determined that Laura's dental records did not match those of the patient at the Continuing Care Center. Whitney's identity was confirmed through her dental records early Wednesday morning."
    Last edited by hoppyfrog; 05-31-2006 at 05:21 PM. Reason: reformat

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeana (DP)
    Wouldn't the family members who went to be by her side for the last five weeks have known which kid it was????
    After an accident as horrific as this one was, the survivors were likely unrecognizeable, even at this point. They had similar looks, and the bruising and swelling would have obscured anything else. What a horrific mistake, however. Prayers for both families.


    Follow me on the Twitter! @EricDiesel1972

    Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (KJV)

    10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord. (KJV)

    Follow me at my Biblical Blog: http://scripture-demystified.blogspot.com

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Knight
    After an accident as horrific as this one was, the survivors were likely unrecognizable, even at this point. They had similar looks, and the bruising and swelling would have obscured anything else. What a horrific mistake, however. Prayers for both families.

    I agree. We almost lost our beautiful daughter in a tragic accident. She was flown to a trauma unit in Atlanta from the wreck site so we did not see her until we went into the trauma unit. There was no way that either one of us could have been prepared for the shock in store for us. Our daughter did not look like our daughter at all but I knew she was my child, I just knew. She had massive injuries to her face, broken back in three places and a crushed foot and ankle. They told us there was a good possibility she would not make it. I never left that hospital for over a month.

    But they were wrong.....so wrong....they did not know our daughter or her will to live. Today to look at her she is the same flawless beauty before this happened. A miracle. She only has problems with birthing children but managed to get through that too.

    We could not have identified our own daughter I guess we just went on faith and hope. So I can understand these parents.

    IMO

    Ocean
    "Pardon Our Noise, It's the Sound of Freedom" USMC New River Air Station, Jacksonville, North Carolina

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by oceanblueeyes
    I agree. We almost lost our beautiful daughter in a tragic accident. She was flown to a trauma unit in Atlanta from the wreck site so we did not see her until we went into the trauma unit. There was no way that either one of us could have been prepared for the shock in store for us. Our daughter did not look like our daughter at all but I knew she was my child, I just knew. She had massive injuries to her face, broken back in three places and a crushed foot and ankle. They told us there was a good possibility she would not make it. I never left that hospital for over a month.

    But they were wrong.....so wrong....they did not know our daughter or her will to live. Today to look at her she is the same flawless beauty before this happened. A miracle. She only has problems with birthing children but managed to get through that too.

    We could not have identified our own daughter I guess we just went on faith and hope. So I can understand these parents.

    IMO

    Ocean
    WOW Ocean. That is a very touching story. I am glad it had a happy ending. Prayers for this young person's family. This is a very sad story.

  8. #8
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    The story has now made it onto cnn.com, and this is the link:

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/05/31/wrong.id.ap/index.html

  9. #9
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    I read this earlier today and they said she had multiple facial fractures. In fact she was so swollen that it wasn't until she started talking to them that they realized not everything was adding up. It is a horrifying story. The girls do look eerily similar thought.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anngelique
    I read this earlier today and they said she had multiple facial fractures. In fact she was so swollen that it wasn't until she started talking to them that they realized not everything was adding up. It is a horrifying story. The girls do look eerily similar thought.
    To compound it, the parents of Whitney Cerak, declined to look at the body before she was buried. they did not want to see her like that.


  11. #11
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    something similar happened here some years ago. the parents realized it after a few days when the trauma patient opened her eyes and they were blue and their loved one had brown eyes. very sad and a tragedy upon a tragedy.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBean
    To compound it, the parents of Whitney Cerak, declined to look at the body before she was buried. they did not want to see her like that.
    Compounding it even more is that the CNN article http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/05/31/wrong.id.ap/index.html states that at the crash site there were purses and wallets scattered all around, and that acquaintances had identified the girls.

    Here is the quote:

    "He described an accident scene strewn with purses and wallets and said acquaintances of the students had identified the survivor as VanRyn. No scientific testing was conducted to verify the identifications.

    'I can't stress enough that we did everything we knew to do under those circumstances, and trusted the same processes and the same policies that we always do,' Mowery said. 'And this tragedy unfolded like we could never have imagined.' "

    I've always *wanted* to believe that in such situations, law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners would do extra testing, e.g. dental records, DNA, rather than relying on what acquaintances say and trying to guess what purse or wallet goes with which victim.

    I guess not. I don't think their processes and policies are enough. This tragic mixup has happened before in other situations and is almost entirely preventable, IMO.

    Hoppy, so sad for the families

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoppyfrog
    Compounding it even more is that the CNN article http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/05/31/wrong.id.ap/index.html states that at the crash site there were purses and wallets scattered all around, and that acquaintances had identified the girls.

    Here is the quote:

    "He described an accident scene strewn with purses and wallets and said acquaintances of the students had identified the survivor as VanRyn. No scientific testing was conducted to verify the identifications.

    'I can't stress enough that we did everything we knew to do under those circumstances, and trusted the same processes and the same policies that we always do,' Mowery said. 'And this tragedy unfolded like we could never have imagined.' "

    I've always *wanted* to believe that in such situations, law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners would do extra testing, e.g. dental records, DNA, rather than relying on what acquaintances say and trying to guess what purse or wallet goes with which victim.

    I guess not. I don't think their processes and policies are enough. This tragic mixup has happened before in other situations and is almost entirely preventable, IMO.

    Hoppy, so sad for the families
    I just cannot stop thinking about this story. I wonder how they came to make the intial ID. I have read the explanation, I understand once the ID was made it was carried on and it was confirmed, but I wonder how they came to make the initial ID at the scene.

  14. #14
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    Coroner expresses regrets over misidentification



    UPLAND, Ind. (AP Newswire) - An Indiana coroner says he accepts responsibility for mixing up the identities of two college classmates involved in a fatal crash.

    Eighteen-year-old Whitney Cerak of Gaylord, Michigan, survived in a coma. But she was mis-identified as 22-year-old LauraVanRyn of Caledonia, Michigan, who died in last month's crash.

    Grant County Coroner Ron Mowery says Cerak was sent to a Fort Wayne hospital with VanRyn's I-D before he reached the scene. VanRyn's parents thought she was their daughter when they saw her at the hospital.

    Mowery says there was a "striking resemblance" between the two women and their photo I-Ds. He says officials identified the women at the scene.



    Follow me on the Twitter! @EricDiesel1972

    Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (KJV)

    10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord. (KJV)

    Follow me at my Biblical Blog: http://scripture-demystified.blogspot.com

    Baruch ha Shem Adonai.

  15. #15
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