GAYLORD, Mich. – The body of a woman mistakenly identified as a college classmate following a van crash was buried again, this time by her own family.
Authorities initially believed Laura VanRyn survived the April 26 crash but was seriously injured and in a coma. After her family kept a bedside vigil for weeks, they realized the injured woman was Whitney Cerak, now 19.
VanRyn's body was exhumed Tuesday from a Fairview Cemetery plot under a marker bearing Cerak's name. Dental records confirmed VanRyn's identity.
About 25 relatives and friends gathered Wednesday afternoon for a private graveside ceremony near VanRyn's hometown of Caledonia, The Detroit News reported.
The casket was lowered to the ground after her family left, David Durston, funeral director of Zaagman Memorial Chapel, told the paper. It was the same casket in which VanRyn had been buried in late April in Gaylord by the Cerak family, the paper reported.
VanRyn, 22, and Cerak bore a striking resemblance to each other. They were in a van that was struck by a tractor-trailer rig on Interstate 69 about 10 miles north of the Taylor University campus where they were students in Upland, Ind. Five people died.
The VanRyn family posted their final entry Wednesday in a Web journal they created to provide updates on her condition. They said the blog would be taken down within 24 hours.
"Our final encouragement to all is this: Do not hang on to the things of this world too tightly. Life here is but a vapor and there is an eternity ahead," the family wrote.
The Cerak family launched their own blog this week.