MONTEREY PARK (CBSLA.com) — How does a healthy newborn baby end up dead in the hospital a day after she is born?
That is a question a grieving Monterey Park couple want answered.
Moreover, compounding their ordeal, news that the baby was cremated without their permission.
It’s a story that is Only On 2.
Auroaanne De La Torre-Johnston was born on May 27 inside Beverly Hospital in Montebello.
“She was in perfect health,” said her father, Michael Johnston. “Very alert, very awake — she was the loudest baby in the ward, apparently.”
On May 28, the baby was dead.
Johnston says he and the baby’s mother Yvette De La Torre are waiting for the Coroner’s Office to tell them the official cause of death.
“We have no clue,” says Johnston, “It’s devastating.”
The sad story doesn’t end there. Johnston says when he and his wife called the coroner last week to check on the progress of their findings, he couldn’t believe what he was told.
“They sent her to USC to be cremated, and her ashes are now in the USC morgue,” Johnston said.
He and his wife said they were stunned into disbelief.
“I said ‘Where is my daughter? What did you do with my daughter?,” he says.
The coroner’s office allegedly told the couple that they left a message on their answering machine saying if they didn’t pick up their baby within 30 days, the body would be disposed of. The couple says they never got that message.
A spokesperson for the coroner’s office declined to comment saying they can’t comment over concerns the coroner’s office could potentially face a lawsuit in this case.
“The fact that the coroner won’t be transparent and accountable really raises from questions here that only the Board of Supervisors or possibly the DA’s office can answer,” says Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog in Santa Monica.
“I mean, this is the worst pain a human being can feel, losing a child. To not have an answer is throwing salt on that wound. Then to dispose of the body before a family can make a choice about what to do with it, to get more answers is inhuman,” said Court.
Now all the parents have is one photo of their little girl.
It’s something Johnston says he looks at a lot.
“I can tell she had my hands,” he said, “I make sure I look at [the picture] every day.”
And he is left with the agonizing question: Why did she die?