HOUSTON—“My husband was a good man,” she said. “He worked four days before he passed away. He was a strong man.”
The pain of Ernest Roman, Dora Roman's husband and the love of her life, passing from a long battle with cancer is almost too much for her and their four children to endure. But she says the pain from what happened next is even worse.
“We just started crying," said Mrs. Roman. "I couldn’t believe someone would do that to my husband.”
Roman claims Santana Funeral Directors had agreed to embalm her husband’s body for a private family viewing. But the viewing never took place because of what the family found when they went to the funeral home a day or two ahead of time.
The Romans say an employee lead them to a building across the street from the funeral home.
“It’s like I’m still there in that room seeing my husband’s body,” said Mrs. Roman.
She says her husband’s body had never been embalmed or even placed in a refrigerator, and instead had been left to decompose for seven days.
“It was wrapped in a thick opaque plastic like he was a mummy," said Mrs. Roman. "The smell was there. Even the embalmer had a mask over his face.”
KHOU 11 News has learned that since 2001, the state has cited Santana nine times for licensing and records violations. An attorney for the Romans has filed a lawsuit accusing the business of negligence.
“I don’t think there’s any real way to make this family whole,” said attorney Jason Gibson. “But the goal here is to make sure that this never happens in the future.”
The Romans had the body transferred to another funeral home where it was cremated for a memorial service.
KHOU 11 News called Santana Funeral Directors for a response and spoke with a man who identified himself as Mr. Santana. He had no comment.
In the meantime, Mrs. Roman, who was married to Ernest for more than 40 years, has no closure.
“It’s been hard, and to relive it over and over again is even harder,” said Mrs. Roman.