Police in Alaska accidently report dead man as missing

A 55-year-old man announced by police as missing Thursday had been dead for more than a week and his body was released to a funeral home as officers began searching for him, according to Anchorage police.

George Nathan Krause's death came to light Friday, following a confusing sequence of events, KTUU-TV reported.

Krause's mother reported him missing to police, and officers subsequently released information about his case to local media Thursday.

Police spokeswoman Anita Shell told the Daily News (http://is.gd/ZjB1Bh ) that a nurse at Providence Alaska Medical Center saw a TV report Thursday and recognized him as a patient declared dead on Dec. 12.

Krause had been taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center on Dec. 12, after a caller reported seeing Krause clutch his chest and fall to the ground on the street near his apartment. He died at the hospital, of a heart attack, Shell told the newspaper.

A Providence spokeswoman said late Friday that attempts by hospital staff to locate Krause's mother, his next of kin, had been "delayed" while he was at the hospital and that they were reviewing their notification process.

Hospital spokeswoman Crystal Bailey said Krause's body was released to a funeral home the day he died.

Police initially incorrectly reported Friday morning that his body had been taken to the state medical examiner's office.

That office said it never had custody of Krause's body.

It's standard protocol in a missing-person case to check the jail and hospitals, Shell said, but it was unclear Friday whether they had checked with Providence before announcing Krause was missing.

Krause carried identification, but neither the police, nor the hospital or the medical examiner's office, was able to find or notify his next of kin, according to Shell.

Hospital staff tries to notify a patient's family if the person dies while in the hospital's care, Bailey said in a statement. That sometimes includes looking through the person's belongings or searching medical records to find a way to contact the family, she said.

"Despite these efforts, notification was still delayed for Mr. Krause's family," Bailey said. "Providence is actively reviewing what may have led to this delay. We are examining our internal processes as well as our collaboration with community partners to determine what led to the late notification and to ensure that family members receive information as quickly as possible."

Hospital staff told the medical examiner's office that Krause was dead, Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees the medical examiner's office, told the Daily News.

A police officer eventually notified Krause's mother of her son's death Thursday night, the Daily News reported.