Heartache overcame an Alaska family Thursday, when a police officer knocked on their door to tell them their son was dead.
Their rollercoaster soon took a sharp turn, though, when they made a surprising discovery on a trip to deliver the news to their son’s girlfriend.
Alaska state trooper arrived at the Priest home in the pre-dawn hours to notify Jay Priest, 63, that his son, Justin, a 29-year-old biologist, had died hours earlier in a Juneau traffic accident.
It was the saddest day Priest could remember, he told the Alaska Dispatch News, recalling how he had to go back inside to tell his wife, Karen.
After wrenching phone calls and visits to friends and family members to fill them on the tragic news, Jay and Karen Priest and their other son, Cody, drove to Justin’s home to tell Julia, his girlfriend of five years.
When they arrived at about 5:30 that morning, they got the shock of their lives.
Answering the knock on the door was not Justin Priest’s girlfriend, but Justin himself.
“Justin?” Jay Priest said he yelled. “It’s Justin! Praise Jesus, we thought you were dead.
“I never cried so much in all my life,” Jay Priest told the Dispatch News.
It turns out the Justin Priest who died in Juneau had a different birthday and middle name. The real victim’s family was notified Thursday afternoon, Juneau police said.
Juneau Police Chief Bryce Johnson apologized to the Priests.
“He told me the story of what they went through, and it left me in tears and speechless,” Johnson said, according to the Dispatch News.
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