Teens' Parents Say Their Bodies Were Mixed-Up After Deadly Crash & One Wrongly Had Organs Removed

The mothers of two teenage girls who died in a Florida car crash last summer allege authorities misidentified their daughters’ bodies — leading one of the girls to have her organs incorrectly removed for donation — according to multiple news outlets.

The suits were filed on Thursday by Ranada Cooks and Tammy Gibson against the Florida Highway Patrol, two funeral homes and the local medical examiner, the Associated Press and the Pensacola News Journal report.

They claim the bodies of Deleigha “Leigha” Gibson, 18, and 15-year-old Samara Cooks were misidentified as each other and that funeral home employees tried to fix the mistake without letting the families know.

Further, the families say, they were not allowed to see their girls’ bodies, which would have allowed them to correct the error.

According to the AP, Leigha and Samara were killed in a July 29 crash involving two of their other close friends in the Pensacola area.

The “Four Amigos,” as the girls’ parents described the group, were driving around 1:30 a.m. when their vehicle veered off the road, hit a utility pole and skidded into trees.

The teens’ moms filed lawsuits in Escambia County Circuit Court after, they said, they discovered that the bodies of their daughters were wrongly tagged by authorities before being released to the funeral homes, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

“I walked in to see my daughter, and I saw Tammy’s daughter. Precious moments were taken away from us that we deserved to have,” Ranada told ABC News.

The lawsuit names the FHP, the Escambia County Coroner, the Escambia County Medical Examiner’s Office, the FHP Pensacola district commander and two funeral homes as defendants.

The mothers also allege that the medical examiner at the time “did not enforce appropriate policies and procedures,” according to CBS News.

Medical examiner staff also allegedly “extracted several organs from the body of Samara Cooks, who was not an organ donor.”

A representative from the Florida Highway Patrol did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment. They told the News Journal they could not comment on “pending litigation” but “the Florida Highway Patrol extends its deepest condolences to the families for their tragic loss.”

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The families of the girls are seeking a jury trial and financial compensation for the loss of “enjoyment of life” as well as for the immense distress caused by the situation, according to the Journal.

“We are just trying to get everything right and give her a proper burial,” Leigha’s father, Demetrius Gibson, said in an interview Friday per the AP.


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