LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico family is devastated after discovering their loved one’s ashes were mixed up with another family’s. The family of 74-year-old Carmen Torres, who passed away last month said they feel like they’ve failed her.
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After her ashes were accidentally taken by another family at a funeral home and then spread before they could correct the mistake. “Heartbroken, we’re devastated, we have no resting place and we can’t be at peace because my mother-in-law’s not at peace,” said Amy Salazar, the daughter-in-law of Torres.
Salazar is still in disbelief about the mix-up that she said should have never happened.
“Their family got their whole person and we’re so distraught and so upset because we don’t have our mother-in-law,” said Salazar.
Salazar said her family worked with Rogers Mortuary in Las Vegas. She said Rogers Mortuary doesn’t do cremations so they contacted Berardinelli Funeral Home in Santa Fe who conducted the cremation and then sent the ashes back to Rogers last week.
Salazar’s sister-in-law then picked them up, without realizing that the ashes she was given were the wrong ones.
“She was her caretaker so she didn’t really pay attention to the coin or anything,” said Salazar. “When you lose someone, you’re just lost when you receive their remains.”
The family discovered they got the wrong remains when they checked the identification coin and it didn’t match. So they called both funeral homes and learned the situation was worse than they thought.
“He (staff member at Berardinelli) told me that he got in touch with the family and they had spread my mother-in-law’s ashes and they had a little bit left but we didn’t know how much,” said Salazar.
Salazar said they don’t blame the other family and the family actually gave them what remaining ashes they still had.
“It had weeds, bug dirt, so we don’t know how much is my mother-in-law,” said Salazar.
But Salazar is frustrated with both funeral homes and hopes something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“Verify your loved ones because you’re distraught, you don’t know who, you don’t pay attention when you go pick them up,” said Salazar. “So I wonder how many other people this happened to.”
Salazar said both funeral homes have apologized profusely for the mix-up and have offered to pay for the headstone. KRQE News 13 did reach out to both the funeral homes involved in the mix-up but they were unavailable on Wednesday.