ME examiner denies the parents access to their dead child.

I just don’t understand. Here is what happened to us.

Jack (the father) discovered Diego the morning that he died. Eina was there within seconds. They called 911, but it was too late for the EMTs to do anything. Of course, the police came, too. Eina was in bedroom 1 with Vivian, my mother was in the kitchen, and I forget where my dad was. The police were interviewing Jack in bedroom 2, I think – I’m a bit fuzzy on some of the details of that morning. (Of course, some details are burned into my brain.) There was an officer in the hall. I think the door to bedroom 3 was open, and I think Diego’s body was in bedroom 2. I remember picking up Eina and holding her in my lap (I’m a lot bigger than she is). I listened to her talk and cry, and I cried with her.

It felt like an eternity, but Jack finally came out. He’s too big for me to pick up and hold. He lay curled up with his head in his hands. The door to bedroom 2 remained closed, and no one in the family was given access to Diego.

The sheriff/coroner personnel arrived and told us that they were going to bring Diego out. I think they said, “so you can say good-bye.” But like I said before, I’m fuzzy on some of the details. One of the police officers walked into the living room with Diego in his arms. My mother was hiding in bedroom 3; I never saw her leave the living room, but I remember wondering where she was and realizing the door to bedroom 3 was closed. Eina, Jack, and my dad were sitting on the couch. Diego was wrapped in a sheet with his head uncovered. I thought he looked like he was sleeping.

The officer laid Diego’s head in Eina’s lap and stretched him out over Jack and Dad. It was awful to watch. Not only was I seeing people in indescribable pain, but they were some of the people that I loved best in the world. And I was in considerable pain of my own. It was awful, but it got worse.

Jack, Eina, and my dad are screaming in pain. I’m crying. One of the sheriff/coroner persons is crying. The other and the police officers are studiously looking at the floor. It seemed to go on for an eternity and, yet, for a much, much too short time. The crying coroner looks up at me and says, “It’s time.” And I had to do the hardest, most painful thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

I had to restrain Jack and Eina while the sheriffs gently pried Diego out of their arms.

And then Diego was gone.

Whoever it was that walked into the living room carrying Diego, certainly, could have continued walking and denied us that last chance to hold his body. She could have been concerned that we might contaminate the evidence, but I suppose since we had had access to Diego before they got there that this is different from the article. Certainly, they considered the possibility that one of us had killed Diego; it happens all too often that a family member kills a child. I suppose they could have been concerned that we might drop Diego or that he might be dropped when they were prying him out of our arms, but they had control. I just don’t understand why the investigator refused to allow the parents to not only not see their dead child, but to not touch him. I just don’t. She was there. She could have had law enforcement officials there. The hospital staff was there.

All I can think is that that examiner was so full of her own self-importance that she was unable to feel compassion.

It was awful when it happened to us, but after going through it, I would never, never disallow someone else that last chance to hold her baby.

Please, support research into Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood. Please, have a heart for the grieving families.