An Alaska family was devastated to learn that their adult son had died in a car crash — and then relieved beyond words to see him alive and in the flesh when they went to his home to tell his girlfriend.
At about 3:00 a.m. Thursday morning, Jay and Karen Priest were awoken by an Alaska State Trooper knocking on their door, according to the Associated Press. Karen and Jay both knew that a state trooper coming to call at that hour was not a good sign.
“He knew right away, the dread. It’s not good when a trooper knocks on your door at three o’clock in the morning.”
The trooper was there to inform them that their son, Justin, had died in a car crash in Juneau. They were given the telephone number of the Juneau Police Department and called to confirm that it was, indeed, their son who had died. They notified friends and relatives. Then they drove to Anchorage to tell their other adult son, Cody, according to The Alaska Dispatch News, and from there to Palmer, about an hour away, to Justin’s home to tell his girlfriend who lived there with him.
Justin Priest told the Alaska Dispatch News that we woke up at about 5:30 a.m. to take his puppy for a walk when he heard pounding on his front door. He opened the door and found his grief-stricken family.
“It’s Justin! Praise Jesus, we thought you were dead.”
Justin later said that in the fog of sleep, it took him a while to figure out what was happening.
As it turned out, the real car crash victim was another man named Justin Priest, who had a different middle name and a different birth date. The family of that Justin Priest has since been notified of his death.
According to the Associated Press, Juneau police sent an Alaska State Trooper to the Priest home to determine if they were the parents of the car crash victim; however, somewhere along the way the message got bungled, and the Priest family was instead wrongly informed that their son was dead. Juneau Police Chief Bryce Johnson has since apologized to the Priest family.
“I’m almost speechless for words. This shouldn’t happen.”
This is not the first time a family has thought a loved one was dead only to see the person alive and well in front of their eyes. Earlier this year, 78-year-old Walter Williams of Lexington, Mississippi, was declared dead only to wake up kicking his body bag a few hours later, according to this Inquisitr report.
Juneau police are reviewing their protocols to make sure another family does not live through the same nightmare in the future.
[Image courtesy of: KIRO (Seattle)]