Canadian rock 'n' roll pianist Scott Cushnie was apparently buried by the wrong family in a heartbreaking case of mistaken identity.
Cushnie, 80, was reported missing in August. Another elderly man in the Toronto area had also been reported missing at the time.
So when an older man with no identification died in nearby hospital, after suffering a serious fall, police summoned the second family to identify the body. They told police it was their relative, and they held a funeral and buried him, authorities said.
But investigators now believe it was really Cushnie. Especially since the second missing man recently came home, after being away for weeks, to find his family had already buried him and grieved his death.
Police have not identified that family, or said why the missing man was away for so long, citing privacy issues.
The body is being exhumed and will be examined, authorities said.
Cushnie, aka Professor Piano, was a prominent Canadian musician who played in Robbie Robertson's teenage bands and with Ronnie Hawkins. He also shared the stage with Aerosmith and Duane Allman
“It’s a tragic set of circumstances,” said Det. Barry Radford of Toronto police. “Police believe we have found him and located his remains and are continuing to follow up on the circumstances of why it took so long for him to be located,” the National Post reported.
Cushnie, who never married and had no children, would often lie low and not return phone calls, his friends said. So it took a few weeks before he was reported missing.
Longtime friend Andrea Reid said she received a call last week from police, saying they believed they had found him and that he had been accidentally buried by the wrong family, the BBC reported.
Reid had been leading the search to find Cushnie, who was born legally blind. Police told her he apparently slipped and fell on a sidewalk and was transported to a medical center, where he died. He was carrying a key fob to the building where he lived, but no identification.
"In a lot of ways this was actually a big relief because I wasn't under the impression that he was alive any more and my fears about what could have happened to him were running rampant," Reid told the BBC.
"To know that an ambulance was right there when he had his accident, and he was given immediate care, and he's been cared for this whole time, was actually a really nice comfort," she said.
Cushnie, referred to as a national treasure for his rock and blues playing skills, was a mentor to Reid, teaching her piano and how to play the blues. He had been in good health when he went missing.
She said he would have cracked up to learn about being buried by the wrong family under the wrong name.
"He was a man with an incredible sense of humor ... if he had read about this story he would have had a laugh," she said.