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Deceased man gets bill for own body removal

Published On: Jul 17 2014 10:08:46 AM CDT   Updated On: Jul 17 2014 10:10:08 AM CDT
Grave, headstone, dead, obituary

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Mackinaw City, MI (WXMI) -- A family from Northern Michigan is expressing their outrage and disbelief after saying their deceased loved one received a bill for his own body removal.


Rebecca Beck posted a picture of the bill to Facebook on Saturday. The bill is addressed to Beck's step-father, Carl Little, who died in a car crash on I-75 just south of the Mackinac Bridge last month.


"It was from the fire department of Mackinaw City," Beck said. "They were essentially billing him for the removal of his corpse. They obviously knew he was dead, I mean, they removed his body from the car."


The itemize bill lists that the $500 charge stems from services provided that include two fire trucks, eight firemen and one rescue truck.


By Tuesday afternoon, Beck's post had more than 14,000 shares. Countless others commented on the picture while sending their condolences to Beck and her family.


"It's very surprising to me that so many people have stepped up and supported me in this," Beck said.


While Beck's being backed by the community, Deputy Chief Kevin Sehlmeyer with the Grand Rapids Fire Department said a recovery fee isn't out of the ordinary.


"This cost recovery has become a way that fire departments take care of things in Michigan," Sehlmeyer said. "It's pretty common. In this case I understand why the family is not happy about receiving this bill but it is in fact a way for fire departments to get revenue so they can continue to provide services."


In Grand Rapids, Selmeyer said the fire department also has various service fees. However, if someone is killed in a crash, he said the bill is tossed out.


While Sehlmeyer couldn't speak to the issue as to why a bill was sent to Beck's late father he said it's likely to have been some type of error.


"A lot of them [fire departments] bill the insurance companies directly, so then it's case of going to the insurance company," Beck said. "It sounds like in this case the bill went directly to the family and I understand it's a time of grieving and it's an emotional time for a family and then to get this bill on top of it….I think the responders up north are doing a great job at trying to provide a service to the community."


FOX 17 reached out to the Mackinaw City Fire Department about the bill but didn't hear back by Tuesday night.


Beck said she wants her story to be a lesson to fire departments across the state to make sure this doesn't happen to other grieving families.


"I understand when the fire departments need to be paid," Beck said. "They're very small departments…they don't get a lot of tax dollars. I just believe that they need to go about collecting the money in a different way."


Beck said she's talked with a lawyer about the bill who advised her that she and her family won't be responsible for it since it's not addressed to them.

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