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O.C. coroner botches an ID, and a family buries a stranger, not their homeless son

The Orange County Sheriff's Department is investigating why the coroner's office misidentified a body found behind a Fountain Valley Verizon store, authorities said.

The family of Frank M. Kerrigan, a 57-year-old mentally ill homeless man, was informed that it was Kerrigan's body that was found behind the phone store in May, authorities said.

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Kerrigan's family held a $20,000 funeral and buried the still-undentified body in a cemetery in the city of Orange, according to the Orange County Register.

But a few weeks later, a family friend who had been one of Kerrigan's pallbearers called Kerrigan's father with some surprising news: Kerrigan was alive and standing on his patio, the Register reported.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department admitted the error in a press release Saturday and promised to review their identification procedures and policies to prevent future mistakes

"The department extends regrets to the family of Frank M. Kerrigan, 57, for any emotional stress caused as a result of this unfortunate incident," according to the release.

The body has not yet been identified. Orange County Sheriff's officials did not return calls for comment Sunday.

Kerrigan's family plans to sue the department for failing to make an adequate effort to identify the body correctly, according to the Register.

Kerrigan is still living on the streets and refusing shelter.

Twitter: @frankshyong

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