Grieving family livid after devastating funeral mix-up
A Sydney funeral director has apologised after a shocking mix up where a beloved husband and father was buried two hours before his funeral.
Despina Nicolopoulos was preparing to say goodbye to her husband of 57 years, Angelos, at a Greek Orthodox Church in Bankstown late Friday when the mistake was discovered.
The service was nearing the end when the group opened the casket to find the wrong body inside.
Speaking to 2GB’s Ben Fordham, Euro Funeral Services director Spiro Haralambous said he takes full responsibility for the tragic bungle.
“If I could turn time back to prevent this trauma, naturally I would,” he said.
“I am so sorry. I wouldn’t want this to happen to me.
“We need to be transparent with no spin-doctoring … and I’ll do everything I can to rectify this, less the trauma.”
Mr Haralambous explained the two men were placed in identical coffins and had died on the same day.
There were two different lids with the men's names engraved onto them, which were placed on the wrong caskets, he revealed.
Staff cross-referenced the date, but failed to check the names matched the corresponding lids.
“The drivers checked the lids, but of course, the wrong lid was on the wrong coffin,” Mr Haralambous said.
He said the funeral company had organised more than 1000 services over the years and never experienced a mistake of this stature.
Additional checks will now be done before a coffin is allowed to leave the business, he said.
Staff were also traumatised by the bungle.
“The girls in the office were crying and I didn’t know who to console,” he said.
“It was just trauma left, right and centre, but at the centre of their trauma was the family’s trauma.”
Ms Nicolopoulos earlier told 7 News her daughter noticed the man in the coffin was not her father.
“Terrible thing to happen,” she said.
Her husband was farewelled at a second funeral days later.
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