A Learning Experience, but Not fun

fishuntr - 9-13-2010 at 07:34 PM

Last weekend I drove to Baja on a mission that was necessary, but definitely not one I want to repeat. Some of you who know me may be aware my family has had a place on the playa near Colonet since 1980. In recent years I have not used it much, concentrating on seeing as many new places in Baja as I can.

My sister and her husband more or less took over the place and he has spent a lot of time there. Larry, my brother-in-law absolutely loved spending weeks at a time there since he retired a few years ago. I got a call from my sister Thursday evening. She was terribly upset, crying, and told me that her husband died at the place. This is the report of what happened as a result of that call.

My two adult sons and I picked up my sister in Rancho Cucamonga and drove to San Ysidro arriving at close to midnight. After about 4 hours rest, we crossed the border early. We arrived in Ensenada about 8A. My sister had been informed that Larry was at the coroner's office in Ensenada. We got directions and drove to the coroners office which isn't far from the San Nicholas Hotel.

The Pathologist arrived at the same time we did and we were able to speak to him in the parking lot. He was very nice and directed us inside and told us what was required. I stayed with my sister while my sons identified the body.

I had a little knowlege of what might be needed and we brought with us Larry's birth certificate, marriage license and a few other papers. After only about 1/2 hour we were on our way to Maneaderos for interviews by the homocide detective. My sister and I were both interviewed, reports were made out and more papers were given to us. these were necesssary for the coroner to release the remains.

I forgot to mention that Larry died of natural causes, an apparent heart attack. He was found by a neighbor.
We returned to the coroners office in Ensenada about 1PM, still on Friday. We turned in the papers and were informed by the Pathologist that he had completed the autopsy and the remains could be released . The coroner reccommended a mortuary and we were talking to the mortician by 3PM.

Larry had requested that when he died he wanted to be cremated and the ashes deposited at the beach house in Colonet. We negotiated with the mortician and arrived at a fair price for the whole thing. This would include all the necessary paperwork translated into english, the death certificate, and 10 certified copies. We were informed this would all be done by 2 PM the next day, Saturday.
(starting to sound incredible yet?)

We spent the night at Motel Rudy's fine establishment, killed time on Saturday and arrived the the mortuary shortly before 2PM. Well the promised time was late by 15 minutes.
We pulled out of Ensenada about 3PM and headed for the border with dear Larry safely in the back seat in his little wood box.

We crossed the border just before dark with no problems. We had picked up Larry's truck and were driving two vehicles home. The only thing customs was interested in was the fact neither of my sons had passport cards. My son Mark, a Deputy Sheriff could have gotten us in trouble with his smart a## answer to the inspector about where the owner of the truck was. Mark said "oh, he's in the back seat" The inspector either didn't hear or didn't really care. He just gave the truck a cursory look and sent us on our way. My other son and my sister were following us.

The whole point of this lengthy narrative is to relate how easily we accomplished this sad chore. I have been visiting Baja since I was a teenager. (67 years old now) I have never had dealings with Mexican authorities go this well. Two days, no mordida, no delays, pleasant officials, professional demeanor. By the way, none of us speak more than "pigeon spanish". It seems we hear so many negative things about the Baja we love, I thought it would be good to relate this.

Paulina - 9-13-2010 at 08:20 PM


I'm sorry for your loss. My condolences to Larry's family and friends.


DavidE - 9-13-2010 at 08:24 PM

This is one trail that we all must eventually trek.

Thanks for the sensitive report.

toneart - 9-13-2010 at 08:33 PM

It is good that such a sad event was handled expeditiously. I am sorry for your family's loss. Didn't you say that Larry wanted his ashes scattered on the beach at his home in Colonet? Why wasn't that done? I hope I am not being too insensitive by asking this question. You don't have to answer it, but you did post that information. :?:

Dave - 9-13-2010 at 08:50 PM

Originally posted by fishuntr
I have never had dealings with Mexican authorities go this well. Two days, no mordida, no delays, pleasant officials, professional demeanor. By the way, none of us speak more than "pigeon spanish". It seems we hear so many negative things about the Baja we love, I thought it would be good to relate this.

I would reserve judgment until you inventory your Colonet home. The last two friends I lost in Baja had their personal effects stolen by police investigators and/or ambulance attendants. Watches, jewelry, wallets and cash all magically disappeared.

Woooosh - 9-13-2010 at 09:09 PM

Thanks for sharing that. It's good to hear that when things go wrong- things can also go right. It does seem very fast to get the cremains returned from the mortuary though. I know this is painful, but would you care to share the total cost of those services. Thanks.

k-rico - 9-13-2010 at 09:13 PM

Do you need to get an American death certificate, based upon the Mexican death certificate, from a US Consulate to settle the estate?

fishuntr - 9-14-2010 at 08:04 AM

I left a few things unsaid because my post was so lengthy. I will be returning to Baja this Friday to tie up a few loose ends. One is picking up certified copies of the death certificate tanslated into englsh.

We will be going on to Colonet and bringing Larry back to the place he loved. His cremains will be left there. We will check the cabin and contents out and possibly bring a few things back with us. Since I rented 2 lots there back in 1980, there have been many improvements. There is now a Mexican caretaker/guard that lives in the little settlement. There are also a few fulltimer retirees. Everything should be secure.

All of Larry's personal possessions were returned; wallet, credit cards, wedding ring etc. There was, however, no money. It probably was "liberated" by somebody. My sister said it couldn't have been much money.

As far as the question re: the U.S. Consul and death certificates, I guess we will have to wait and find out. I do know the consulate was advised. I was told that the translated certified copies were good in the U.S.

I remain thoroughly impressed with the way the whole thing was handled by the authorities. My background is law enforcement. In my long carreer I dealth with many death investigations. This kind of unattended death, had it happened in the U.S. would have taken much longer to resolve, even though it was clearly natural.

Thanks to all for the kind words.

fishuntr - 9-14-2010 at 08:07 AM

I just noticed the question about cost. The whole thing was just under $1000 U.S.

TMW - 9-14-2010 at 08:17 AM

My condolences to you and your family. You have given us excellent information, thanks.

DianaT - 9-14-2010 at 08:26 AM

My thoughts are with you and your family---so sorry for your loss. It is good that the way it was handled made such a difficult thing a little easier.

Will be thinking about you and your task on Friday---does sound like it really is the right thing for Larry for him to be forever at a place he loved, but it never is an easy for those left behind.

And your very complete report is very much appreciated.


knuckles - 9-14-2010 at 08:44 AM

This is how it should be. Bless those fine people who are doing their jobs respectfully and properly.

For every bad story that gets posted here, I hope there are hundreds like this one.

Respects and condolences to your sister and family.

Neal Johns - 9-14-2010 at 09:22 AM

Really glad it worked out well as it could for the family.

David K - 9-14-2010 at 10:19 AM

Sorry for your loss... Thank you for sharing, it is valuable information and something many of may need to experience.

BajaBlanca - 9-14-2010 at 11:10 AM

thanks so much for sharing. invaluable information.

my condolences.... I am so sorry for your loss.