Dead Wrong: Family receives scare after son is misidentified as deceased

(WSVN) - First panic and then disbelief for a South Florida family after getting a letter from a funeral home telling them their son was dead. But as 7’s Lynn Martinez tells us, while the letter was dead wrong, it’s created a nightmare for the young man.

It’s something no parent wants to imagine.

Andy Garcia, father: “Oh, my God! It’s just … it’s horrible because I don’t want to think about my son dying.”

Back in December, Andy Garcia received a letter from Legacy Funeral Home in Mesa, Arizona, asking to be contacted immediately.

The letter had tragic news.

Andy Garcia: “My son had passed away. They wanted to know if we could go down there and identify him.”

The family panicked. Anthony Garcia spoke to us via Skype.

Anthony Garcia, son: “By the time I got to my phone, I already had about 20 missed calls from my mom, my dad and my brother.”

Not only was Andy’s son, Anthony, not dead, he wasn’t even in Arizona.

But according to the letter, the funeral home was holding the body of a man with the same first name, last name and birthday as Anthony.

Only there was one big difference.

Andy Garcia: “The middle name. There’s two middle names there. One of them is not my son’s.”

As soon as Anthony found out, he called the funeral home to clear things up. Three weeks later, he realized there were still problems.

Anthony Garcia: “I went to go buy something for Christmas, and my bank card was declined. They froze my account because I was deceased.”

Anthony called the funeral home again.

Anthony Garcia: “The funeral home told me to call the medical examiner’s office. Then I called them, and then they told me they got everything straightened out.”

But it wasn’t. Anthony’s personal information was sent to a county agency in Arizona that can access a dead person’s bank account to cover burial costs.

Anthony Garcia: “That’s why my bank got frozen because they tried to withdraw money from my account.”

The Maricopa Medical Examiner’s Office in Arizona told 7News a funeral home employee chose the wrong Anthony Garcia out of 70 likely matches in a nationwide database.

A corrected death certificate was finally issued in January.

Anthony told 7News that while he’s happy everything has been cleared up, he’s worried that his personal information may still be at risk.

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