ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque woman is heartbroken after her husband of 15 years died. She’s also upset at how first responders handled his death, saying they took away his dignity when they left his body outside, uncovered for hours. The woman said neighbors were in view of his naked body for nearly three hours but Albuquerque Fire Rescue is defending why they left him like that.
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June Wilson placed flowers and a cross by a walkway that leads into her home in remembrance of her late husband, Norman. “I couldn’t work because I had to take care of him,” said Wilson. Norman was a 100-year-old Army veteran. He died in their southeast Albuquerque home almost two weeks ago.
“I called 911 and I said ‘my husband is dead,'” said Wilson. She said after first responders arrived, they placed him on the walkway outside of their home and removed his clothing to try to revive him. “They cut his clothes off,” said Wilson. “He had a t-shirt on and a pair of jeans on and he was nude. Completely nude, from head to toe.”
Wilson said once a police officer got on scene, firefighters left but also left her husband’s body naked, uncovered, and in view where the neighbors could see. “There was a cop here who said the chaplain was on his way but they let my husband sit there for two and a half hours nude and that was wrong,” said Wilson. “That was a disgrace to him. It was a disgrace to me.”
Wilson said she eventually covered her husband’s body with a blanket as she watched ants crawl on him. According to a call sheet from police, the body was taken away almost three hours after the initial 911 call. Police said that night, there were several calls for first responders, which caused delays with the chaplain and medical investigators.
“It can be quite complicated and family members are distraught because they witnessed their loved one passing away or discovered their loved one so, it is an extremely difficult scene to handle,” said AFR spokesperson, Tom Ruiz. AFR couldn’t talk specifics about this incident but said when there’s an unattended death, they try to preserve as much evidence as possible for police and medical investigators. “And sometimes that does require for that person to be left uncovered,” added Ruiz.
Regardless of protocol, the incident was heartbreaking for Wilson. “I mean, in front of my house on the concrete on the dirt,” asked Wilson. “That, that’s wrong, that’s inhumane.”
AFR told KRQE News 13 when there’s an unattended death, if EMS or firefighters arrive on the scene first, they turn the case over to police who then take possession of the body. APD also said officers and their chaplain were very respectful and made accommodations for his wife, even making phone calls for her to family members.