Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Two pals from Ireland passed away in Florida due to fentanyl poisoning. Officials claim that they mistakenly cremated the wrong person

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In Florida, there was a mistake with the bodies of two Irish guys who died from drug overdoses. Their names are Kane Mitchell, 30, and Luke Comiskey, 31. They passed away in April 2022 after taking drugs with fentanyl. Kane bought the drugs from someone he met the day before.

These friends lived in Pinellas Park near St. Petersburg. When they didn’t show up for work, their boss checked on them and found their bodies in the apartment.

The bodies were sent back to Ireland by a funeral home in Florida. One of them was cremated as per the family’s request, and the other was not.

After three months, in July, the families noticed mistakes in the autopsy reports. It turned out that there was a mix-up with the labeling of the bodies. Mitchell’s remains were buried in Comiskey’s family plot, and Comiskey was the one who got cremated.

CNN got this information from a secret source in law enforcement. The source revealed that there was a mistake, and CNN found documents confirming it.

When the bodies were first found, the identification was correct. But there was an error later when the tags on their bodies got mixed up during labeling, according to William Pellan from the District Six Medical Examiner Office.

In August 2022, there was a mix-up involving two guys, Kane Mitchell and Luke Comiskey. Initially, they thought the ashes they cremated were Kane’s, but it turned out to be Luke’s. The office handling it is really sorry about the mistake.

Both families went through a tough time losing a family member, and then there was this mix-up in burying Luke in Kane’s spot. The letter mentioned they’re really sorry about the whole situation.

CNN contacted the families, and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs knows about it, providing help. They didn’t share more details, saying they don’t talk about individual cases.

Not sure how long Kane and Luke lived in Florida or where they worked.

The guy accused of selling drugs that led to their deaths, James Richard Peoples III, got arrested last month, charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

He texted with one victim about getting “powder,” probably cocaine. He admitted selling drugs but denied giving fentanyl.

The public defender’s office for Peoples didn’t comment. His next court hearing is on March 18.

The mix-up with their remains was found three months later. In August 2022, the Medical Examiner Office said they gave case numbers for both victims. The families wanted them sent to Ireland for services.

After a toxicology report in July 2022 blamed fentanyl for their deaths, the families got the autopsy reports. That’s when they realized the mix-up, according to the August letter from the medical examiner’s office.

The letter mentioned some mistakes in the info about bodies in a report, and they told the medical examiner’s office about it on August 12, 2022. After checking pictures, old papers, and confirming past injuries and tattoos, the medical examiner’s office found out that the bodies were mixed up. They don’t know when it happened.

The letter said they’re pretty sure the two dead people were labeled wrong either when they died or when they got to the medical examiner’s office. This mix-up led to autopsy reports having the wrong names, and the bodies were released with the wrong identities on the labels.

The District Six Medical Examiner Office didn’t say more when CNN asked. In an email, they mentioned the cases are being investigated for crimes.

The guy from the medical examiner’s office said in the letter that they started looking into it as soon as the families told them. He promised that the office will pay for any costs tied to this mess. He’s been talking to the families a lot and updating them. He also talked to the funeral homes in Ireland about what happened.

They were planning to dig up Mitchell’s body to make sure it’s him by checking tattoos and DNA. They were ready to send their experts to Dublin for that. CNN couldn’t find out if they did it, and the guy from the medical examiner’s office didn’t reply to CNN’s request for a comment.

On another note, fentanyl is a strong drug, about 100 times stronger than morphine. Some people use it for medical reasons, like cancer pain. But bad people can make it illegally, causing a lot of overdose deaths. A report said that from 2003 to 2020, people who died in Florida were 63% more likely to have overdosed compared to those who died in other states. This info came from a big study on death records.

In 2022, Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement recorded 6,157 deaths related to opioids, which is 4% less than the previous year.

Pinellas Park Chief of Police Adam Geissenberger expressed concern about the harmful effects of fentanyl abuse, vowing to pursue justice and protect the community.

After the deaths in Florida, the Irish community in New York, where the two men had spent time, held a memorial service at St. Barnabas Church in the Bronx. Friends shared heartfelt memories of the men, highlighting Comiskey’s good looks, loyalty, sportsmanship, and love for travel. Mitchell was remembered as a versatile outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing and camping, even in the rain.

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