When five friends returning from a trip to Disneyland were involved in a rollover crash July 18, authorities had to tell a family that their daughter had died at the scene.
They just didn’t tell the right family.
In the week after the accident, the family of 19-year-old Abby Guerra prepared for her funeral, while the family of 21-year-old Marlena Cantu kept vigil outside a Phoenix hospital room, praying for the recovery of a badly bruised, swollen-faced woman inside.
Saturday, the families learned that there had been a mistake, that Guerra was the young woman in the hospital, and that Cantu had died at the scene.
The Associated Press reported that Cantu and Guerra were among a group of five friends from Ironwood High School in Glendale, outside Phoenix, who were returning from Disneyland on July 18 when the sport utility vehicle they were in blew a tire and rolled several times.
One of the five – 20-year-old Tyler Parker – was taken to a hospital, where he died the next day. A woman believed to be Cantu and another person suffered severe head trauma and were also taken to St. Joseph’s.
Officials told the families Guerra had died at the scene, according to the Arizona Republic.
Her family spent the past week planning her funeral. Her teammates from the University of Evansville soccer team in Indiana were planning on attending it, but went to the hospital after they got the news, the Associated Press reported.
“It’s a miracle but … you feel angry because we mourned all week,” Dorenda Cisneros, Guerra’s aunt, told KPHO-TV in Phoenix on Sunday. The Arizona Department of Public Safety said in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Sunday that a spokesman wouldn’t be available to discuss the identification mistake until Monday.
The ordeal was devastating for Cantu’s parents, family friend Colleen Donovan told the Arizona Republic.
“Every day they went (to the hospital) having hope that she’s living one more day, then to find out it’s not her,” Donovan told the Republic. “And Abby’s parents, too. They’ve gone through all these emotions, and now they find out she’s really alive. Abby still has a struggle to survive.”
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