Funeral home delivered wrong body in casket to memorial, Houston family says

HOUSTON (KPRC/CNN) - A Texas family is heartbroken and outraged after they say a funeral home delivered the wrong body to their loved one’s memorial service.

Doctors diagnosed Natividad ‘Nati’ Cordova with pancreatic cancer in May. The father, grandfather and great-grandfather spent his last two weeks at home with family.

Natividad "Nati" Cordova, a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, died after a fight against pancreatic cancer. His family wanted his funeral to be perfect but says the funeral home brought a stranger's body in his casket.
Natividad "Nati" Cordova, a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, died after a fight against pancreatic cancer. His family wanted his funeral to be perfect but says the funeral home brought a stranger's body in his casket. (Source: Cordova Family/KPRC/CNN)

“For us to say our last goodbyes to our father, it was supposed to be perfect because he gave us all. So, we wanted to give him everything – perfect,” said Cordova’s daughter, Susana Montelongo.

On the day of the funeral, immediate family members only gathered for a special but socially distanced service.

The casket from Santana Funeral Directors in Houston was late, but that wasn’t a big deal until Maria Vasquez, Cordova’s daughter, opened it and found a stranger inside, wearing her father’s special Mexico soccer jersey.

“Then, you go up to the casket to just tell him ‘I love you’ before anybody comes in, and you’re touching the wrong person with your dad’s clothes. It’s not OK,” Vasquez said. “They ruined everything. We didn’t even get an ‘I’m sorry’ from the guys who brought the body in. Nobody was there. The director literally rushed out, left us there.”

Cordova’s son, Natividad Cordova Jr., went with Santana employees to find his father’s body. Close to two hours later, the correct body arrived, but the family says it was not prepared for a service.

“It was just horrible, like we were living in a nightmare movie. It was just very traumatic to us and to our family,” Montelongo said. “Instead of having good memories and a perfect funeral for our father because he deserved the best, we are having a nightmare.”

The family says the funeral home refunded their money, but they plan on filing a lawsuit. They say they wish employees would have shown some remorse over the mix-up on the day of the funeral.

Copyright 2020 KPRC, Cordova Family via CNN. All rights reserved.