Police seize, spill FL man’s ashes after mistaking them for heroin, family says

They assumed it was heroin. Turns out, it was a dead man's ashes. (Photo: WFLA)

(WFLA/WNCT) — When police in Manchester, Maine responded to a car crash last weekend, they used Narcan to revive the unresponsive driver from a suspected opioid overdose and seized a powdery substance found in the glove compartment.

They assumed it was heroin. Turns out, it was a dead man’s ashes, the Kennebec Journal reports.

- Advertisement -

The cremated remains were those of 76-year-old Robert C. Curtis Sr., who died at his home in Brooksville, Florida in 2013.

Curtis is the father of the car’s owner, 57-year-old Kevin Curtis of Augusta, Maine. The younger Curtis was recently given a portion of his father’s ashes, which he stored in the glove box of his 2006 Chevrolet Impala while he awaited the arrival of an urn he had ordered.

Curtis said he loaned the car to his friend, 31-year-old Jesse Legendere, so that he could go to the grocery store.  Legendere was behind the wheel when the crash occurred.

Police said Legendere swerved off the road and hit a utility pole, ultimately breaking it. He ended up in a ditch.

Police believe he was under the influence of heroin.  After using Narcan to revive him, police searched the car and found 48 grams of a white powdery substance in the glove compartment.

Legendre was taken to a nearby hospital and was later arrested for operating after habitual offender revocation and falsifying physical evidence.

 On Tuesday, Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason confirmed the powder was human remains, noting that a glove compartment  was “a rather unusual manner in which to keep the remains of a loved one, for sure.”

“At the time we didn’t have the correct testing equipment to test it. It has since come back negative and that property has been returned to the owner,” added Lt. Chris Read, of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

“The kids were really mad when they found out that (the police) took Grandpa, but I tried to make a joke of it. I said, “This is the first time he’s ever been in lockup and we’ll just get him out,'” Kevin Curtis told the Journal.

Curtis also said some of the ashes spilled out during the crash and landed on his friend’s pants.

He was finally able to get the ashes back two days later.