The father of a hit-and-run victim says the LA County Coroner’s office is billing him for work they had to do anyway, calling into question a transportation charge his family could never have avoided because the death involved a crime.
Bruce Redack’s grief is as raw as the day that he lost his son.
“Every single day, there isn’t a day that goes by that he isn’t in my thoughts,” he says. “He’s always with me.”
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Redack keeps a vial of his son’s ashes tied on a necklace.
In January 2014, 29-year-old Marine Terry Redack was jogging in the Antelope Valley when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver. He died in a hospital three days later.
More than two years later, Bruce Redack and his family still have bills from his son’s hospital stay and medical care. Then, there’s also the $300 bill from the LA County Coroner’s Office for taking Terry Redack’s body from the hospital so its investigators could document his injuries and medical reports.
“We are essentially the victim’s in this and why do we have to pay this?” Bruce Redack asks.
Bruce says it never occurred to him to question the bill, he was just trying to keep finances in order and so he paid $100 toward the transportation fee before realizing what it was for.
“I don’t understand why we are being charged at all,” he asks.
A spokesperson for the LA County Coroner’s Office says the agency waives transportation fees for babies and homicide victims but Redack’s death, despite the hit-and-run is ruled an accident because no one has been caught to prosecute it as a homicide.
This despite the LA County Sheriff’s investigation into his death and even an authorized reward to find the driver at the time.
California law says “the coroner may charge and collect from the person entitled to control the disposition of the remains… not to exceed $400.”
“I think that’s what our taxes are for,” Bruce Redack says.
Bruce says his son’s death is no accident: he was killed and his family is getting billed for part of the investigation while still suffering emotionally, wondering if anyone will ever pay for the crime.
“Maybe there was drinking involved or whatever but I think about that driver,” he says. “I don’t know how in their conscience that they can just continue their life and not turn themselves in.”
Redack has received a collections notice from the coroner’s office for the remainder of the bill.
He hasn’t decided whether to fight it but wanted others’ to know of its existence.
The LA County Coroner’s office says funeral homes used to do the billing for transportation fees, but the agency now handles its own billing.