Metro-East News

St. Clair coroner sued over body parts left at crash scene

Jared McPherson
Jared McPherson

The survivors of a man who died after a vehicle crash and fire in August have filed suit against St. Clair County, including Coroner Rick Stone, accusing his office of leaving body parts at the crash site.

Karissa McPherson and Candice Holland filed the suit in Madison County.

Stone could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Jared McPherson, 25, and Brian Lee Hubbs, 37, died in a fiery car crash on Aug. 8 off northbound Interstate 255 near Collinsville Road Their truck left the road, struck a tree, then caught fire.

Three days later, Candice Holland, who was engaged to marry McPherson, and Karissa McPherson, who is McPherson’s sister, went to the accident site to place a memorial and try to find his cell phone and wallet. What they found, the lawsuit states, were parts of a hand and skull.

The suit says survivors of one of the deceased men went to the crash site to place a memorial and search for his belongings, but instead they found body parts.

The two called Michael McPherson, who is the father of Jared and Karissa McPherson, who called St. Clair County Deputy Coroner Tom Boyd. Boyd retrieved the hand and skull and took it to the funeral home.

“We were heartbroken that we had to deal with this on top of everything else,” Holland told a reporter in August. “They treated him like a dead animal on the side of the road. They disrespected him and his dignity.”

The suit alleges that after Aug. 11, the plaintiffs went again to the crash scene and found more body parts.

Stone said in August the bodies had third- and fourth-degree burns, then were hit with high-pressure water hoses used to extinguish the fire before they were extricated from the truck.

The condition of the bodies made it difficult to tell if something was missing, Stone said at the time.

According to the suit, St. Clair County:

▪  Showed an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others.

▪  Failed to ensure all body parts were removed from the accident scene.

“St. Clair County’s conduct is extreme and outrageous, and St. Clair County should have known the conduct would cause severe emotional distress,” the suit argues.

The suit, filed by East Alton attorneys Edward Unsell and Janel Freeman, seeks more than $50,000 in damages.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer