NATION : Fla. Coroner Mixes Up Bodies

From Times Wire Services

Two bodies were switched at the medical examiner's office, and the mix-up went undetected until relatives went to a funeral home and saw a stranger in the casket.

"It was a nightmare," said Velma Romeo, who had expected to see the body of her balding, 76-year-old husband, Anthony. "When I came up to view the casket, I saw a man with a full head of hair. He was dressed in my husband's clothes, and he had on my husband's glasses."

The body was that of a 53-year-old Tampa man who had died of cancer on Sept. 17, the same day Romeo had died of heart disease at his home in suburban Seffner. Romeo's body was later found in the Hillsborough County morgue.

"'We're very sorry for the emotional trauma the family went through," said Betty Buchan, interim director of the county medical examiner's office. "We're still trying to figure out what went wrong."

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