- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The U.S. Postal Service apologized after it erroneously declared a Chaska man dead.

Jason Gerling, who injured his spine some two decades ago, said his mom got a shock when her letter to him was returned with the word “deceased” on it. The post office mix-up caused confusion and emotional distress among family members, Gerling told WCCO-TV (https://cbsloc.al/1FwwCX0 ).

His mom, Jan Gerling, said she almost had a heart attack when she received the letter and immediately called her son to make sure he was still alive. She said it brought her back to the day she found out Jason had been in a terrible accident that left him in a wheelchair.

“So 20 years later, ironically, my mom goes out to the mailbox and sees ‘deceased’ on a letter,” he said. “I was very frustrated, I was scared, I was thinking, ‘I hope somebody’s not trying to pull a practical joke on me.’”

The Postal Service said the error may have resulted from a piece of Gerling’s mail being misdelivered but that it should not have happened.

Since Gerling depends on disability benefits, the error could have wreaked havoc on the monthly checks he receives from the federal government.

“I certainly hope that this will shine light on this error and hopefully checks and balances will be put in order,” he said.

The Gerlings said they want the Postal Service to ensure this doesn’t happen to another family by requiring a death certificate as proof that a person has actually died.

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Information from: WCCO-TV, https://www.wcco.com

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