Columbia, SC (WLTX) - We hear of airlines losing luggage every day, but this is a mixup that's hard to imagine.
A Midlands family was expecting their dead loved one inside a casket that was shipped by Delta Airlines, but instead somebody else was there. What happened next was a frantic search to figure out what went wrong and get their loved one's body back in time for his own funeral.
Latasha Crumpton says her uncle, Purdy Walker, was a joker who was loved by his family. He died last week in New York state where he lived for many years. It was Walker's wish that he be buried in his birthplace of Sumter County, but getting home proved to be a challenge.
"You hear about this stuff happening on t.v., but not to our family, you know?" Crumpton said.
Walker's family prepared him for burial in New York and then sent his body to South Carolina on Delta. But there was another body on that plane: Stanley Williams of Virginia.
Shipping clerks at LaGuardia Airport in New York City apparently put the wrong shipping labels on the caskets. So Williams ended up being sent here, and Walker showed up in Virginia, throwing two families into even more grief.
They eventually got his body arriving at his funeral less than two hours after it was set to begin.
When Delta found out about the mixup, they apologized to the Williams family in Virginia but Latasha says they haven't heard a single word from the airline, angering her family.
"He's resting now but just what he had to go through..he passed of cancer and he was already suffering pretty much and to pretty much be flown all over the place just to get to his final resting place was pretty dramatic," she said.
"I'm sure he's laughing about it," she added. "I know he is. He went with the flow."
Family members didn't have a visitation and say they didn't get to spend enough time with him before the service. News19 called delta airlines to find out why the Virginia family was called, but not Walker's. So far, Delta hasn't returned our calls.