Philadelphia mother says medical examiner wrongfully cremated child’s remains

Aisha McCord said her family waited weeks to bury their daughter, Ashay, only to learn she'd been cremated.

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

A Southwest Philadelphia mother turned to the Action News Investigative Team after she said the medical examiner’s office mistakenly cremated the remains of her teenage daughter.

Aisha McCord said her family waited weeks to bury their daughter, Ashay, only to learn she’d been cremated.

McCord said the family never gave consent to do so and wants to know how it happened.

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“Miss my baby,” she said. “I wear it every day.”

McCord keeps the cremated remains of her daughter close to her heart in a locket.

“Beautiful soul. Everybody loved Ashay wherever she went,” she said.

Ashay was born at just 27 weeks and had cerebral palsy. Her mother said she also suffered from seizures.

Despite her challenges, she was like many 16-year-olds and tough to get out of bed.

In April, after repeated calls to wake her up, the teen didn’t respond.

So McCord ushered her young son to check on her. “And he like, ‘Mom, she’s cold,'” she recalled. “I go over there. She’s cold.”

Police and paramedics responded.

And since Ashay was a minor, an investigation into the cause of her death was launched in order to rule out foul play.

The Philadelphia Medical Examiner took the body.

“And committed what I consider a disgraceful act and did not properly code her in their system or keep track of who her next of kin were,” said Attorney AJ Thomson.

Thomson represents the family who is now suing the city for alleged negligence.

McCord said for a full month after Ashay’s death she, Ashay’s father, and other family made repeated calls to the medical examiner’s office in an effort to learn the cause of death and reclaim the body for burial.

McCord said they received few answers and continued to be told only that the autopsy was pending.

“After 41 days, all they gave to Miss McCord was a certificate that she had been cremated in a box,” said Thomson. “They did not give her a death certificate, did not give her an apology certainly, and did not give her an explanation as to how this happened.”

McCord told the Investigative Team the ME’s office told her Ashay was listed as a Jane Doe despite constant communication between the family and a forensic investigator with the office.

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“I said, ‘When you called me the first time, I gave you all the information. You asked me about her doctor, who the pediatrician was, who was the neurologist. I gave you all that information.’ And they said, ‘Oh, well, we got her down as a Jane Doe.’ I said, ‘How?'” she said.

The medical examiner is not commenting.

In court filings, the city is trying to have the case thrown out, claiming government immunity.

McCord and her attorney want answers and change to prevent this from happening again.

“Anybody who hears the story will agree this is a huge disgrace and stain on the medical examiner’s office and the city,” said Thomson.

Ashay’s death certificate lists complications of prematurity as a cause of death but no secondary causes.

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