He’s Alive: Police Sorry For Telling Wrong Family Their Son Died
When an Alaska couple knocked on the door of their son’s long-time girlfriend on Thursday to inform her that he had been killed in a car accident, the son, 29-year-old Justin Priest, answered the door.
Juneau police had mistakenly told Karen and Jay Priest that their son had been killed in the crash.
[su_center_ad]The Associated Press reports:
“There are no words,” she said on Friday, still wrung out from what she called an emotional roller coaster. “We just kept staring at him.”
Justin Priest said he’d gotten up to let out his 9-week-old puppy and was near the door at 5:30 a.m. when his parents and brother knocked. They started screaming when he opened the door.
The Priests live outside of Palmer. At 3 a.m. Thursday, they were awakened by their barking dogs and a knock on the door. Through a window, Jay saw a man with the drill sergeant hat of an Alaska State Trooper.
“He knew right away, the dread. It’s not good when a trooper knocks on your door at three o’clock in the morning,” Karen Priest said.
The trooper informed them that Justin, a private fisheries biologist in Anchorage, had died in Juneau.
The trooper gave them a Juneau police phone number. When the couple called there, an officer said Justin’s car had crashed into a tree at high speed. That didn’t sound like Justin, Karen said. The officer said they investigation was ongoing, which to her implied alcohol use, and that didn’t sound right either, she said.
The Priests started calling out-of-state relatives. After telling another son, Cody, of his brother’s death, he collapsed.
Then the Priests drove with Cody to tell Julia, Justin’s girlfriend, the horrible news.
Jay knocked on the door and their ‘deceased’ son opened it.
“It opens and right here is Justin. I don’t even see it but Jay is sobbing. It doesn’t compute to me. Then I see him,” she said. “You want it to be true, but you go, ‘Am I hallucinating?’ Justin didn’t know what was going on.”
“I didn’t know why they were yelling and screaming,” Justin Priest said. “I was mostly asleep. They were yelling, ‘Praise Jesus! It’s a miracle!'”
At first, Justin thought his parents were victims of a hoax.
Afterward, the Priests called the police to tell them of their error.
Juneau police apologized and they are reviewing audio tapes and other records to find out what went wrong.
“I’m almost speechless for words,” Chief Bryce Johnson said. “This shouldn’t happen.”
The mix-up happened when police asked troopers to find out from the family if they had the correct Justin Priest who was involved in the car crash, but somehow, those instructions were misinterpreted, Johnson said, and the officer took the assignment as a death notification.
“We have to take responsibility for that,” Johnson said. “It was our case.”
And you thought you had a bad day.
H/T: LL’s own @Mea_Mark, the Mod God. [su_csky_ad]