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Family of woman killed in wrong-way crash upset over autopsy

Duaa Lutfi's family said an autopsy was performed against their religious beliefs. Under Kentucky law, families can't refuse autopsies requested by the coroner.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — LMPD said a wrong-way driver is to blame for a crash that killed 22-year old Duaa Lutfi.

A 17-year old is charged with murder, assault, DUI and wanton endangerment after the deadly crash early Saturday morning. Police said the boy was driving the wrong way on I-65 near Arthur Street and hit two cars head-on.

Lutfi's family members spent hours calling hospitals, trying to figure out where she was. Lutfi was taken to the University of Louisville Hospital where she later died from blunt force trauma, according to the Jefferson County Coroner.

Family members said an autopsy was performed last weekend, which goes against their religious beliefs. LMPD told WHAS11 they did not request the procedure.

Tuesday, the Jefferson County Coroner sent WHAS11 this statement about the autopsy:

"The Jefferson County Coroner's Office realizes that this is a very personal and sensitive matter and some families may object to an autopsy.  Autopsies are necessary for us to perform a competent investigation and Kentucky law recognizes that the Coroner must have the authority to order an autopsy despite family objections.  If families object to an autopsy for personal or religious reasons, we will discuss the issue and attempt to resolve the matter in a way that will provide families with peace of mind but still allow a thorough inquiry.  Regrettably, though, there are cases that we feel mandate an autopsy. 

Our office takes religious considerations very seriously and many times a year we are able to meet the request of families and not conduct an autopsy due to religious considerations.  In this case, with pending criminal charges and mostly likely a civil complaint as well, the decision was made to conduct an autopsy in this case.  Each and every case has different sets of facts and circumstances." 

Jimmy Pollard with the Kentucky Coroner's Association says the investigation would likely have triggered the coroner to request an autopsy from the medical examiner, under KRS 72

"To do this job and do it properly it takes an autopsy to get to the bigger thing," he said.

KRS 72 includes a list of circumstances that require an autopsy under Kentucky law. It does not recognize a family's right to refuse an autopsy requested by a coroner.

"When a coroner requests an autopsy, the family cannot stop it, the coroner is the only person who can stop it," Pollard said. 

When deaths may involve a court case down the road, Pollard tries to explain to hesitant families why the autopsy is important to the investigation. He said it's the only way to rule out natural causes of death.

"Do you want this person to pay for what they've done and be responsible for it? Then this is what we need to do to complete this case," he said. "You have to explain to them, do you want this done correctly? Do you want this done right?" 

Lutfi had two passengers in the car when she was struck, one identified by family members as Hailey Snyder who was listed in critical condition. They said Snyder suffered lacerations on her spleen, broken ribs, a spinal fracture, and a broken foot but is expected to make a full recovery.  

WHAS11 reached out to LMPD for an update on the case, and the condition of the 17-year old driver, and they did not have any new information to share.

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