(Trinidad Guardian) The body of a 73-year-old woman, who lost a four-year battle with breast cancer, was finally released last night after being wrangled in a two-day custody conflict between two funeral homes. The conflict between the two homes was sparked by an error caused by the Caura Hospital.
One month ago, relatives of Winifred Duncan contracted the Simpson’s Shalom Chapel in Mc Bean Couva to do her final rites. The owner of the Chapel, Candace Simpson told Guardian Media that she personally wrote up the release documents, however, when Duncan died around 3 am on Wednesday, hospital officials instead contacted the Simpson’s Memorial Funeral Home in Laventille, which belonged to her cousin David Simpson.
Asked if she believed the similarities in their names were responsible for the mix-up, Candace said: “I believe that was the initial mix up, however, it was clearly expressed on the paperwork because I wrote up the paperwork for the family several months ago – this is the release forms for Caura. The police called Caura while they were here (Wednesday night) and they expressed that the body was to be released to Simpson’s Shalom Chapels Limited.”
She, however, claimed that the driver from her cousin’s establishment intentionally ignored this.
Candace said she only found out of the mix up after Duncan’s relatives, who lived abroad, called to confirm the funeral arrangements with her and ever since, she said, she had been trying to get it released to her.
She said her cousin refused to release the body to her unless she paid a fee of $2900, which she was not prepared to do.
“I felt the nation needed to know two things. Number one that Simpson’s is a separate entity.
Candace’s cousin and Funeral Director for Simpson’s Memorial limited, David Simpson, however, refuted the claims.
“We are a feuding family, let’s not play smart with foolishness. Based on the situation at hand with the other funeral director (Candace) claiming that body snatching is being practised, it’s unfortunate because we at this company don’t do such. I have been a member of the Association of Funeral Professionals of Trinidad and Tobago (AFPTT). We practice the highest standards,” David said.
“It is unfortunate that a mistake has occurred, the hospital is settling whatever outstanding debt there is,” he added.
David said the $2900 fee being charged to his cousin was for services his establishment rendered such as receiving and storing the body.
He said after consulting with the hospital’s legal department, he was told that the hospital would accept responsibility for the mistake and would cover his bill, allowing him to release the body to his cousin.
President of the AFPTT, Keith Belgrove told Guardian Media in a telephone interview that this incident reinforces the need for further regulation within the industry