A couple sat by their daughter's hospital bedside for weeks after an auto accident until she came out of a coma and they realized she was not their daughter after all, but another blond-haired young woman injured in the wreck. Their own daughter, it turned out, was dead and buried.
In a tragic mix-up, one family had been incorrectly told their daughter had died in the April 26 crash in Indiana, and another was erroneously informed their daughter was in a coma.
The two young women — both students at Indiana's Taylor University — looked remarkably alike, and the one in a coma suffered facial swelling, broken bones and cuts and bruises, and was in a neck brace.
The family of Laura VanRyn, 22, disclosed the mix-up Wednesday on a Web log that they had used to record detailed updates on the young woman's recovery.
"Our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we have been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor student of hers, Whitney Cerak," the VanRyns said on the blog.
Cerak's grandfather, Emil Frank, said news of his granddaughter's survival was a shock. "I still can't get over it. It's like a fairy tale," he said.
Coroner Ron Mowery, whose office handled the case, apologized for the mistake. He said acquaintances of the students had identified the survivor as VanRyn, but no scientific tests were conducted to verify the IDs.
You know it is bad when the person recovering wakes up and asks, "Who are you?". It is almost like that Sanda Bullock movie, While You Were Sleeping.