A funeral driver who left a baby’s body on the roof of his van before driving away has broken his silence – saying he feels ‘shattered’ after he forgot to move the infant’s casket inside his van.
Richard Bertrand, 58, accidentally left the corpse on top of his vehicle on Wednesday, which was en route to the John Tonge Centre, in Brisbane, from Rockhampton.
It wasn’t until Mr Bertrand, of Queensland Funeral Transfers, arrived at the morgue that he realised the baby was missing.
Funeral driver Richard Bertrand, 58, (pictured with one of his company’s van) who left a baby’s body on the roof of his van before driving away has broken his silence – saying he feels ‘shattered’ after he forgot to move the infant’s capsule inside his van
The grim discovery was made by road workers on Thursday morning – who are understood to be have been offered counselling.
His company’s licence has been suspended while the incident is investigated by Queensland Health, and the driver said his heart went out to the family.
He told Daily Mail Australia: ‘I just feel bad about the fact I made a mistake. I really feel for the family who are going through this.
Mr Bertrand said the mistake occurred when he was doing a change-over with another driver at Eumundi.
The casket fell off almost immediately as he pulled away from outside the other driver’s home.
Mr Bertrand said: ‘It had to be moved and I put it on the roof. I just forgot to move it again.’
The 58-year-old from Gracemere near Rockhampton told Channel 9 he felt ‘absolutely shattered’ by the incident.
His company’s licence has been suspended while the incident is investigated by Queensland Health, and the driver said his heart went out to the family (company van pictured)
He added his mistake came at a time when he was under the stress of having his hometown evacuated on Wednesday due to bushfires.
The baby’s body was diverted to Brisbane because the local pathologist in Rockhampton had taken sick leave, police said.
Shadow Attorney-General David Janetzki said the incident showed more regulation was needed in the funeral industry.
He said: ‘Words fail me.
‘The entire system which deals with deceased in Queensland has to be urgently reviewed.’
The driver added his roadside mistake came at a time when he was under the stress of having his hometown evacuated on Wednesday due to bushfires (stock image)
The family, who are said to be ‘extremely distressed’, has been made aware of the incident.
They have so far been too distressed to comment on the matter to the media.
‘This is an incredibly distressing incident… We have spoken with the family to explain what happened, support them and to apologise,’ a Queensland Health spokesman said.
‘This transport was not undertaken by Queensland Health but by a licenced private funeral contractor. Queensland Health has already begun a process to fully investigate the contractor’s actions, so that nothing like this ever happens again.’
Charges are not expected to be laid following the incident.