A 62-year-old Michigan man drove hundreds of miles after noticing his 31-year-old passenger had died in his van on a cross-country road trip from Phoenix, Arizona. According to USA Today, Warren Police Detective Sgt. Stephen Mills said the driver, Ray Tomlinson of Clinton Township, tapped his girlfriend’s shoulder as they passed through Oklahoma or Texas at some point on his cross-country road trip headed north to Michigan.
Tomlinson noticed at that point that her body was cold and she wouldn’t wake up. Sgt, Mills said that at that point Tomlinson wasn’t sure what to do because he was in a remote area of the country.
“He then does an Internet search via his phone,” Mills said. “He says he finds on the Internet that he has 48 hours to take her to a medical examiner or to a morgue.”
Mills says that is not accurate information and Tomlinson should have immediately dialed 911 before bothering to google his predicament from the driver’s seat of his 2004 Ford Econoline van.
“As soon as you determine that (a person is) unresponsive, you should pull over and call 911,” Mills said. “Because there’s always a possibility that you foresee them as dead but they may not be.”
Tomlinson’s young passenger had just been released from a mental facility.
“I went like this, you know, nudged her, at this point in time she was stiff,” Tomlinson told ClickOnDetroit about his female passenger.”There wasn’t jerking or moans or groans, or cries for help, she just fell asleep.”
The passenger that died in the Michigan man’s van — whose name has not been released — had a last known address in Roseville, Michigan. Her corpse underwent an autopsy Tuesday by the Macomb County Medical Examiner. The examiner found no cause of death, but a toxicology report is pending; there appears to be no sign of foul play.
Police became aware of the Michigan man’s dead passenger only after a health care professional her cell phone and Tomlinson answered. Tomlinson told the caller that his girlfriend had died and he was driving her corpse up to a morgue in Michigan. He was told by the professional at the facility that he needed to stop his van and call the police, but Tomlinson said, “I’m not stopping. I’ll get a hold of them when I get to Michigan.”
Tomlinson explained to police during an interview that he was returning home to Michigan after spending the winter in Arizona and he was eager to get back home. Tomlinson’s 92-year-old mother was also a passenger in the van.
Tomlinson told ClickOnDetroit, “I just drove and drove, and I knew I’d be in some kind of trouble.”
“I had a 92-year-old that does not travel very well. The priority was to get her home and in a safe place.”
When the driver refused to contact police, the mental facility employee called the authorities. Police in Michigan called Tomlinson and he met them Tuesday in Warren with the corpse of the 31-year-old passenger.
“It’s strange to think someone could drive 26 hours with a dead person sitting next to them,” Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green explained.
It’s uncertain if charges will be brought against Tomlinson. Police believe the 31-year-old passenger died after she ingested a number of oxycodone pills. Tomlinson explained that he stopped at a gas station in Flagstaff, Arizona and the passenger had used the restroom there. Now home, Tomlinson told reporters he wished he had done things differently and said, “I loved her very much.”
In another bizarre corpse-related story, a woman in Florida’s condo was damaged when the corpse of her next-door neighbor exploded. In the case of the Michigan man’s cross-country road trip with his passenger who had died, Warren Police Commissioner Jere Gree said, “She obviously had been dead for at least 24 hours in screeching heat.”