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Family funeral arrangements disrupted by autopsy delay

It took more than 10 days to see their loved one one last time; M.E. says situation was out of his hands
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 11:37 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - For the family of Daniel Salazar, grief for their lost loved one has been mixed with frustration.

“It’s pretty traumatic,” Abigail Perez, his sister-in-law, said.

Lubbock County is still outsourcing its autopsies to Tarrant County, a process that usually only takes between 48 and 72 hours. But in this case, they say, it took more than ten days to finally see Salazar one last time after his death.

The 38-year-old died on Sunday Oct. 3, but his body wasn’t at the services on Saturday Oct. 9.

“My sister-in-law didn’t even get to have his viewing before the funeral and celebration of life. She had to do it after. And she didn’t actually even get to do it until [October 14]. This process, we felt, was way too long,” Perez said.

Lake Ridge Chapel & Memorial Designers funeral home said in a statement said that the family requested a celebration of life and it was not expected that the remains would be present.

However, the family says they were told multiple times that they could have a private viewing before the services.

Perez says miscommunication made it difficult to find out what was happening. She spoke with the transportation company that serves the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s office. A driver informed her that the remains would be returned the Friday before the funeral, but the office was closed for the weekend.

“He goes, this happens a lot, because the Lubbock M.E. does not do anything after Friday, after five,” she said.

All Lubbock county autopsies are currently performed in Tarrant county.
All Lubbock county autopsies are currently performed in Tarrant county.(KCBD)

Dr. Charles Addington, the Lubbock County M.E., disputes this timeline and says the Tarrant County M.E. put a hold on the body and it was not in Lubbock until the following Monday, October 11.

Addington says the length of time in this case is out of the ordinary.

It took two days after Salazar’s death for his remains to be sent to Tarrant County.

Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish says the partnership with that office will continue for the foreseeable future.

“The things that plagued Lubbock County as judge are not happening. We don’t have a backlog of death certificates,” he said. “I know that there will be a time coming where we will need to do these services in house, but for the time being, we’re very pleased with that we’re getting from Tarrant County, very pleased with the service we’re getting from our medical examiner.”

Parrish says the Commissioner’s Court will review how the M.E.’s office is run on an annual basis.

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