A Kelso funeral home will be fined $12,500 and placed on probation for one year after an October mix-up resulted in a pair of bodies being sent on incorrect routes to their final resting places, according to the findings in a state Department of Licensing report.
Dahl McVicker Funeral Home was charged with unprofessional conduct for misidentifying the bodies of Jerry D. Moon, 72, Castle Rock, and Robert Petitclerc, 97, Kelso. As a result Moon was cremated, while Petitclerc’s body was found inside the casket at Moon’s funeral in Chehalis.
A Dahl McVicker employee, Norm Burns, reportedly failed to place identification bracelets on the remains of both men when he transported them from Community Home Health and Hospice in Longview. Burns then brought the bodies back to the funeral home, where he placed the wrong bracelets on the two bodies, according to the report.
At the funeral home, another employee transported the remains of Moon, labeled “Robert Petitclerc,” to Longview Memorial Park Crematory for cremation. The remains of Petitclerc, labeled “Jerry Moon,” were transported to Sticklin Funeral Chapel, and then Brown Mortuary in Chehalis, for funeral preparations.
Brown Mortuary was not found to be at fault, state Department of Licensing spokeswoman Christine Anthony said.
“In our investigation we found they were unaware of the misidentification of the remains and we felt they were not in any violation.” Anthony said. “It would be a violation if they had known. Everything pointed back to Dahl McVicker.”
The funeral mishap in Chehalis occurred on Monday, Oct. 21, when Moon was supposed to be buried following a funeral. When funeral staff opened the casket at the service at Brown Mortuary, the body of Petitclerc was inside.
Petitclerc had wished to be cremated. Moon had wished to be buried.
The men died within one hour of each other on Oct. 13 at Community Home Health Care & Hospice.
The Kelso funeral home has taken responsibility for mistakenly cremating Moon and shipping Petitclerc’s body to Chehalis.
Ken Dahl, owner of the Dahl McVicker funeral home, was unavailable for comment Monday.
Anthoney said Dahl McVicker was served with the findings last week and will have 20 days to either agree to the terms or request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
“If they wanted to, they can just accept it and move forward,” Anthony said.
If the funeral home signs the agreed order, Anthony said, they will be monitored closely while under probation for a year. The state department of licensing will show up at any time rather than just once annually, Anthony said.
“They have to make things available when we ask for it,” Anthony said. “They will be under a little more close scrutiny.”
The state Department of Licensing finished its investigation in December and sent the results to the state Funeral and Cemetery Board, which released the findings Monday.
Attorney Shawn Briggs, who is representing both the families, previously told The Chronicle that the families won’t consider damages or filing a lawsuit until the findings are released.
Briggs was unavailable Monday while at a trial, according to his secretary.
Brian Moon, the son of Jerry Moon, said Monday he has not yet seen the findings and will have to confer with his attorney before possibly moving forward with a lawsuit or damages.