Funeral home must pay penalty for mixup

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PROSPECT — A funeral home whose staff was accused of cremating the wrong woman in December 2009 was ordered Feb. 22 to pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the state, according to a consent order.

The state Board of Examiners of Embalmers and Funeral Directors approved a consent order last week in the case of Buckmiller Brothers Funeral Home.

The order also placed the funeral home’s certificate on a one-year probation period and required the funeral home to submit its policy to ensure appropriate identification of human remains.

The state Department of Public Health, which licenses funeral homes, opened three investigations following a mix-up at the Prospect funeral home in December 2009. The state board has resolved two with consent orders, while the third is pending.

At a wake on Dec. 29, 2009, family of the late Aurelie Germaine Tuccillo noticed that the person inside the casket didn’t resemble the woman they knew and loved. Other mourners who came to pay their respects to the 95-year-old woman also noticed.

Family members said they were told by the funeral home that Aurelie Tuccillo had been cremated by mistake, and that another woman’s body had inadvertently been placed in her casket. The body in the casket, they were told, was that of Shirley Hollis, 82, who according to her obituary died at the Litchfield Woods Health Care Center in Torrington on Dec. 24. Hollis had requested her body be cremated and the ashes spread in the Bahamas, her niece, Sandy Groves, has said.

In a statement issued Dec. 29, Wayne Buckmiller, funeral director who has since retired, acknowledged there had been a “most unfortunate incident involving the late Mrs. Tuccillo.”

The state board has approved a consent order in the case against Wayne Buckmiller. He was ordered to pay a $2,000 civil penalty, and his license to practice as a funeral director was reprimanded, according to the consent order.

The case against David Buckmiller, Wayne’s son, who is a licensed embalmer, has been concluded and referred to the department’s legal office for possible further action, a state Department of Public Health spokesman said.

The state Department of Public Safety opened an administrative investigation into the matter and concluded it, according to state police. That information was turned over to public health officials without any details released.

Wayne Buckmiller said that the state board resolved his case, and he paid his fine. He declined to comment further.

Before retiring, he operated two funeral homes, one on Waterbury Road in Prospect and another on Fairview Avenue in Naugatuck, with his brother, Terry Buckmiller, the former mayor of Naugatuck.