The owner of a New Zealand funeral home says she has notified the family of a loved one whose body made news when it fell from the back of her hearse at a busy Auckland intersection earlier this week.
Carina Zhang, co-owner of Pacific Memorials, told The New Zealand Herald that the family of the deceased had been “really wonderful.”
“They expressed their understanding and they accepted our apology,” she said.
Zhang said the body was in the process of being transported from a nearby hospital to her funeral home when the incident occurred.
Witnesses to the incident said they saw the body slide from the back of the hearse as the car took off after a red light at an intersection on a rainy day.
Other motorists in the area jumped from their vehicles to help the driver lift the body back into the car.
Witness Alison Smith told The Herald she was pulling up to the intersection around 1 p.m. when she saw a body “lying on a gurney in the middle of the road behind the hearse.”
“It was quite surreal, really, but because there were no cops and nothing appeared to have happened, I thought, ‘Why is there a dead person on a gurney in the middle of the intersection?’” she said.
An unnamed driver snapped a picture of the scene.
One man who helped reload the body, Manase Fakapulia, says the incident has been haunting him since it happened.
Fakapulia was with his wife, Alisi Fakapulia, and his 14-year-old daughter when they saw the gurney hit the ground.
Alisi Fakapulia told ninemsn that people seemed to realize what had happened but were reluctant to get out of their cars and help move the body.
“I said 'Babe, babe do you see what I see?' and he just jumped out and helped lift it,” she said of her husband, adding that he and the hearse driver had a hard time getting the gurney back into the car because the door appeared to be broken.
“They couldn't push it in because the boot kept falling down,” she said.
Eventually the Fakapulia’s daughter got out of the family car and held the hearse door open for the two men.
Now, Alisi Fakapulia said, her husband has been having trouble sleeping.
"He's been up all night the last two nights thinking about it, he said he can't sleep thinking about what happened,” she said.
Zhang said the body slid from the vehicle because of a faulty latch on the back door.
She said other families who were hosting services with her funeral home in the coming days have also been notified of the incident and that all of those families have been “very generous and understanding.”
“We also want to apologize through the newspaper to the public, especially those people involved on the scene,” Zhang told The Herald. “I believe it might be a horrible scene for them to see and also to the general public who might be offended by something like this.”
The body was not harmed, she said.
Photo Credit: Submitted photo via The New Zealand Herald