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Family says man killed in car accident was billed for own body removal

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MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (WXMI) – A family in Michigan says they are outraged after receiving a bill following the loss of a loved one.

Rebecca Beck says she was stunned when her stepfather, Carl Little, died in a car crash last month.

However, her grief turned to anger when her stepfather got a bill in the mail.

“It was from the fire department of Mackinaw City,” Beck said. “They were essentially billing him for the removal of his corpse. They obviously knew he was dead, I mean, they removed his body from the car.”

The itemized bill says the $500 charge stems from services provided that include two fire trucks, eight firemen and one rescue truck.

Officials with the Grand Rapids Fire Department say a recovery fee isn’t out of the ordinary.

“This cost recovery has become a way that fire departments take care of things in Michigan,” said Deputy Chief Kevin Sehlmeyer. “It’s pretty common. In this case, I understand why the family is not happy about receiving the bill but it is, in fact, a way for fire departments to get revenue so they can continue to provide services.”

Sehlmeyer says it wasn’t his department that sent the bill, but believes it was in error.

“A lot of them bill the insurance companies directly, so then it’s a case of going to the insurance company,” Sehlmeyer said. “It sounds like in this case, the bill went directly to the family and I understand it’s a time of grieving and it’s an emotional time for a family and then to get this bill on top of it. I think the responders up north are doing a great job at trying to provide a service to the community.”

WMXI reached out to the Mackinaw City Fire Department about the bill but did not hear back.

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