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Family says funeral home cremated woman by mistake, gave ashes to wrong family

HOUSTON — A Texas family is suing a funeral home accused of cremating a woman who was supposed to be buried, then giving her ashes to another family.

Roberta Salazar's relatives say the 79-year-old helped plan her own funeral, down to the dress she would wear. Instead of embalming Salazar’s body, however, they say Grace Funeral Home in Victoria, Texas, not only cremated her — but gave the remains to the wrong family who then buried the ashes, thinking they were burying their loved one.

Now, the Salazar family is suing the funeral home for $50 million in damages, and the family's attorney says the story only gets worse.

The lawsuit claims the funeral home let the Salazar family know they had mistakenly cremated Roberta’s body – but only days before her scheduled funeral in March of 2017. Their attorney says the funeral home had first tried to cover up the error by trying to convince the family to have a closed casket, saying the body had deteriorated.

The funeral home gave the following statement to KIAH:

"Grace Funeral Home deeply regrets the mistake in cremating Ms. Salazar's body [...] specific details were provided to assure the family that the cremated remains provided for burial were those of Ms. Salazar. There were no efforts to deceive anyone about what occurred."

Salazar has four children, 22 grand children with 51 great grandchildren and 14 great-great grandchildren. Salazar's faith also forbids cremation, according to KIAH.

The family says they will bury Salazar’s cremated ashes next to her late husband.

The funeral home has just over two weeks to respond to the lawsuit.