Governor Jan Brewer is currently reviewing Senate Bill 1118 known as “Abby’s Law:” legislation created to prevent the misidentification of deceased persons. The law was given its name in honor of twenty-year-old (20) Abby Guerra, an Ironwood High School graduate thought to have died in an automobile accident that killed two (2) people and injured three (3) others on July 18, 2010. The crash occurred on Interstate ten (10) when the teens were traveling home from Disneyland. After the accident, the Guerra family was told that Abby had died. According to the Guerra family, they contacted the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office over a dozen times in the six (6) days following the accident hoping to see Abby’s body. However, the Guerra’s requests were denied, and the funeral was postponed because Abby’s body had not yet been released five (5) days after the accident. Six days after the accident, a forensic dentist determined the deceased was not Abby Guerra, but was Abby’s friend, twenty-one-year-old (21) Marlena Cantu.
To ensure that no other family would endure the same tragedy, the Guerra family began working with Senator Nancy Barto on SB 1118. Abby’s Law would allow family members of the deceased to meet with medical examiners if there are questions about the identity of the deceased or if the family simply needs closure, and medical examiners would be required to honor the family members request within forty-eight (48) hours. Additionally, family members would be entitled to view photos and other items that may help positively identify the deceased. Abby said about SB 1118, “It’s a very reasonable fix to a horrendous need for a solution.”
If your loved one has died in an accident due to the negligence of another, contact the wrongful death attorneys at Oracle Law Group for assistance with your wrongful death claim.