Fire officials in the northern Michigan community of Mackinaw City have apologized for a faux pas that may end them all: They billed a man killed in a car accident $500 for the removal of his own body from a crash scene.
“I’m dumbfounded, frankly, with the whole thing,” Rebecca Beck, the stepdaughter of the deceased man, told WPBN-WTO. “They billed my dad knowing that he was dead, because they removed his corpse … And, frankly, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Carl Norman Little, 64, of Gladstone was pronounced dead at the scene of June 23 accident on Interstate 75.
The Village of Mackinaw City said on its web site that it has apologized to the family and has taken steps to avoid similar situations in the future.
Michigan law allows emergency responders to recover their costs, but the bill should have been sent to Little’s insurance company,
Beck shared a snapshot of the bill on her Facebook page and it has since been shared nearly 20,000 times. The photo went viral before she had a chance to tell Mackinaw City officials about the gaffe.
“The … public actually did it for me, and they kind of took it out of my hands so I didn’t have to deal with it,” Beck told WPBN-WTO, adding “the support of the community actually got the bill dealt with.”
A Grand Rapids fire official told WXMI that billing for services is not unusual.
“The cost recovery has become a way that fire departments take care of things in Michigan,” Deputy Chief Kevin Sehlmeyer of the Grand Rapids Fire Department 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 his community, bills are tossed out in responses involving a fatality.
Beck told WXMI that she understands the Mackinaw City Fire Department needs to be paid.
“They’re very small departments…they don’t get a lot of tax dollars,” she said. “I just believe that they need to go about collecting the money in a different way.”