The father and two other men, all from Saudi Arabia, were transporting the baby
Smokey Barn News Thursday December 11, 2014 Millersville, Robertson County, Tenn.
Fluke Traffic Stop In Millersville Brings Burial Laws To Light
Wednesday afternoon a Millersville Police officer stopped a vehicle on Interstate 65 in Robertson County for a simple vehicle registration violation. At some point in the stop the occupants indicated that they were transporting a deceased child to a burial ceremony.
Millersville Police Chief David HindmanPhoto: Courtesy of WKRN News 2
The occupants told the officer that the body was in the trunk of the vehicle. In the state of Tennessee it is perfectly legal for a family member to transport a body with the proper paperwork and processing. The occupants of the vehicle did have the proper permit but due to a language barrier that fact was not conveyed.
The Millersville officer sized up the situation and decided to allow the driver to leave. When the officer returned to the office and articulated what had happened, Millersville Police Chief David Hindman decided confirmation of proper paperwork should be pursued.
The chief likely knew that that decision would publicize the situation but apparently decided to err on the side of caution and send out a BOLO to locate the vehicle. Local and state agencies were notified to keep an eye out for the vehicle and, once located, confirm that the proper paperwork to transport a body in accordance with state law was obtained.
After about 24 hours, authorities were able to determine that indeed the family did have the proper permit to transport the 15 week old fetal child.
What the officer stumbled upon was the father and two other men, all from Saudi Arabia, transporting the baby to a mosque in Williamson County for an Islamic burial ceremony. “It was a one in a million stop,” Chief Hindman said.
Hindman said the mother miscarried at 15 weeks on December 7 at a hospital in Bowling Green, Ky., and the parents were given the permit from the coroner’s office.
In our research we discovered that though it is legal for a family member to transport a body themselves (with the proper paperwork) the laws in each state may vary. Additionally, according to one official we spoke to, with a fetal child only 15 weeks old there would likely not have been an official birth or death certificate. Without a birth or death certificate the laws can be a little different too.
“What they told the officer is their baby had died. They had processed the body according to Muslim faith,” Hindman said.
Hindman said the officer, not wanting to interfere with a Muslim religious burial ceremony, decided at that time not to cause a scene with the family in the midst of their mourning, and to let the vehicle go on to bury their child.
Hindman indicated that the officer that made the stop had about five months of experience and he stands by his employee.
“I stand by my officer and he will continue to be with us here at Millersville police,” he said.
Chief Hindman called the incident very rare but said he does plan to create a new policy in order to deal with similar scenarios in the future.
Millersville police also say they consulted with an expert in Muslim religious beliefs who said the officer acted appropriately by not defiling the body of the child.