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An incident captured on dashcam where a stretcher and body bag fell out of a hearse was a rare mistake, the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand believe.
The dashcam footage - captured yesterday by a motorist - shows a hearse driving through a busy Auckland intersection with its boot open followed by a gurney.
The incident shows the driver stop and retreive the gurney quickly, leaving witnesses horrified.
Katrina Shanks, Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ) chief executive, is adamant that it would not have happened if there was a body inside.
"If there was a deceased person that was being transported it would not have happened, as the system would have been different," Shanks told the Herald.
Shanks understood that some members of the public might have found it disturbing and reiterated that it would not happen again.
"It can be upsetting to members of the public, the funeral home is looking at it very seriously and that's all we can do at this stage, she said.
"Obviously no one wants to lose anything in the middle of an intersection, let alone a stretcher out the back.
"I know that the company that is involved is looking at their policies and process and implementing additional training on top of what they already do, to ensure that this doesn't happen again," Shanks said.
The reason it looks like a body was inside was because of a pillow and metal bar, managing director of Davis Funerals Craig Little said.
"We have a vinyl square pillow to lay people's head and at the foot-end of that stretcher there is a metal bar that can look like people's feet," he told the Herald.
In 2015, a similar event happend in Papatoetoe. Shanks admitted that this sort of thing happens "occasionally".
"It was a basic human error, but the most important thing is that we believe it won't happen again.
"It was a very unfortunate incident and I know the funeral home is looking at it very seriously," she said.
Describing his shock at the sight, the motorist - who did not want to be named - said he'd heard a bang while pulled up at the lights of the busy intersection about 12.45pm.
He assumed a piece of timber or some other heavy item had fallen from a car, and certainly didn't expect to see what looked like a body, he said.
"I was a bit shocked really," he told the New Zealand Herald.
"I heard this noise, and the next thing you know I see the stretcher with the body on it flying through the intersection."
A nearby Caltex worker said he was behind the till serving a customer and looked outside to see the driver loading the gurney and body bag back into the hearse.
He too believed there was a body inside, he said, describing the scene as "crazy".