Israel Plasencia died of a heart attack last November. His body was taken to Angeleno Valley Mortuary in North Hollywood, which the same month also received the body of Ponciano Sandoval. The much younger man had died of tuberculosis, and was supposed to be buried in Mexico.
Attorney Arnoldo Casillas says the family is from a rural part of Mexico, and when the body arrived, it was the main event there at the town, the whole town came out and there was a mass, a rosary and the town buried the body.
Meanwhile, in this country, the mortuary was preparing Plasencia's body for burial, but the staff realized it wasn't Israel Plasencia. It was 30 year old Ponciano Sandoval. They called his father, Celso, to show him the body that was supposed to be underground in Mexico.
He was in shock; he did not know how to handle it; there was no way for him to explain to his wife and his family in Mexico -- you've buried the wrong body.
The funeral home also called Plasencia's wife , and basically said look, we want to report to you we've made a mistake; we made an error. It seems that your husband has taken a trip ;we sent his body inadvertently to Mexico and we are going to do our best to get it back.
She thought it was a horrible, horrible joke.
"My husband wasn't an envelope or a shoe box; he was a human being," says Plasencia's wife, Irma, who,along with Ponciano's father, is suing the funeral home
This is not how they wanted to remember their loved ones.
Casillas says, "When they think of the fact that they buried under these surreal and bizarre circumstances, that is something they are never gonna forget"
A spokesman for the funeral home says: "I make no comment about anything