Backlog of autopsies in Iowa delays funeral plans for Council Bluffs 2-year-old

Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 10:45 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2020 at 1:02 PM CDT
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FARRAGUT, Iowa (WOWT) - What should have taken only days has now dragged a family’s sorrow on for nearly a week.

Two-year-old Ellie died last week in Council Bluffs when a car struck her. Now her family is speaking up to help Iowans in their shoes.

“I just felt like that was unacceptable it’s unacceptable for anybody we’re already dealing with a pretty hefty tragedy and to think about mom’s little girl staying up there just waiting,” Ellie’s aunt Jamie Behrend said.

When Ellie’s body was sent to the state medical examiners in Ankeny, the family was told to expect a call in 48 hours. When that didn’t happen they started to make calls on their own.

“I kind of just got the runaround,” Behrend said.

Phone calls to local and state officials seemed to lead nowhere. The only explanation she was given was the state medical examiner was backlogged.

“They just said there’s just absolutely no way were several days out this isn’t going to happen for several days,” Behrend said.

That’s when the family turned to 6 News.

“We just wanna bring our baby girl home it’s really hard to imagine going through this as it is but to drag it out the last date we were given is that they might get to her by Oct. 10,” Behrend said.

6 News also started making phone calls on Tuesday and got the runaround. Pottawattamie County officials said to call the state medical examiner. Multiple phone calls to the state office later, the only information provided is that there were “swamped.”

On Thursday, they said our messages were forwarded to the administration office and that we should hear back from somebody — but as of our 10 p.m. broadcast Thursday night, we were still waiting.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office pointed us towards the Iowa Public Health Department, which emailed back saying they could answer our questions — but we haven’t heard back from them either.

Ellie’s family said they’re talking about this because they know there are other people who don’t have the information and resources to demand autopsies be done faster.

“Having her back here doesn’t make everything better, but at least we know where she is; mom knows where she is. She can be at peace. We can lay her to rest,” Behrend said.

The family drove three hours to the state medical examiners Thursday to see if they could get any answers in person, but they said they were unable to learn anything new. They ended up signing a document saying they didn’t want an autopsy done so Ellie could come home.

How to help: You can support the family through their Venmo account under username Katie-Livingston-17. An account was also set up at the Glenwood State Bank; donate by letting them know it is for the “Ellie Baucom Benefit.”

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