"Putting her on a flatbed like they did...that was like putting a cow up there." Obese Woman Dragged Out On Mattress, Winched Onto Flatbed Wrecker.
Boyfriend, Son Watched As Woman Was Removed
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Marion County Coroner's Office has come under fire after it was revealed that an obese woman was dragged from her home and hauled away on a trailer in front of family members following her death.
Teresa Smith, 48, who weighed 750 pounds, died Tuesday in her apartment on Indianapolis' northeast side.
Officials at the scene told 6News' Jack Rinehart that the deputy coroner made the decision to call a towing service to remove the body from the home.
"We debated for quite a while about how we were going to get her out of there and so we finally decided, since we didn't have a van that was large enough to carry her, it was decided between (the police) department and the coroner's office to use (the truck)," said Detective Marcus Kennedy.
Smith's boyfriend and the couple's 13-year-old son, along with several neighbors, watched as Smith's body, still on her mattress, was dragged across the courtyard of the apartment complex, strapped down on the wrecker and covered with a piece of carpet.
"I think they should have handled it differently, putting her on a flatbed like they did. That was like putting a cow up there," said Smith's boyfriend, David Johnson.
Neighbors said they were also disturbed by the ordeal.
"What really got me is when they took her off onto the flatbed, they threw this dirty, dirty carpet on top of her, and I just thought that was so disrespectful," said a neighbor, who did not want to be identified. "I would have never let them throw that on my loved one."
Once on the truck, Smith's body was escorted by police downtown to the coroner's office.
Former Chief Deputy Coroner John Linehan said he was shocked and dismayed that appropriate steps weren't taken to remove the woman from her home.
He said that fire and medical personnel have equipment available for handling patients up to 1,000 pounds and that moving obese individuals is not all that rare of an occurrence.
"When they scoop up dead dogs off of the street they don't treat them that way," he said. "It's just not the way to treat a human being."
Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew told Rinehart by phone Wednesday that a flatbed truck has been used in other occasions to move obese individuals. She said the office is now looking for a way to transport Smith's body from the morgue to the funeral home.
The Indiana State Coroner's Association said it has no specific recommendations to handle extremely obese people. The decision is left up to each county.
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