A man has died after a mix up that led to a family turning off the wrong man's life support.

Relatives say Elisha Brittman, 69, was misidentified as Alfonso Bennett after being found naked and unresponsive under a car with extensive facial injuries in April, reports The Independent.

He was listed at Mercy Hospital as John Doe, while his family continued to search for him.

Alfonso Bennett's family, the man that Brittman was misidentified as, later received a phone call from the hospital that said they had him in intensive care.


Upon showing no signs of improvement, the Bennett family agreed to turn off his ventilator and he died days later.

The family were in the middle of funeral arrangements when Alfonso Bennett shockingly turned up alive at a barbeque.

Meanwhile, Mr Brittman's family members learned of his death after being eventually identified through fingerprints at the morgue.

Still image of Elisha Brittman taken from a video by CBS Chicago. Photo / CBS Chicago
Still image of Elisha Brittman taken from a video by CBS Chicago. Photo / CBS Chicago

They family say the mix up, which has been devastating for everyone involved, could have been avoided if Mr Brittman's fingerprints had been tested in the first place.

Mr Bennett's sister Rosie Brooks, who received the phone call saying her brother was in hospital, told a press conference on Wednesday: "I said 'how did you all verify this was Alfonso Bennett' –they said 'through the Chicago Police Department'.

"In my heart I could not recognise him."

She added: "If this [the fingerprinting] had been done when they first picked that body up we wouldn't even be here today."

Both families have now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Mercy Hospital.


The state senator Patricia Van Pelt said she would look into improving the situation by introducing legislation which would require identification of an unconscious person through fingerprints.

A spokesperson for Mercy Hospital said it would not be providing a statement at this time.

The Chicago Police Department has been contacted for comment.