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Hands off my body!
A funeral director nearly dropped dead when he walked outside to find the minivan he used for business – along with the corpse inside – had vanished.
Paul DeNigris parked his 2002 Dodge in a "No Parking Anytime" zone outside Redden's Funeral Home on W. 14th St. Monday while he went in to handle some business. While he was inside, a police truck towed the vehicle to the city tow pound, reports the Daily News.
"I was just a wreck," a grave DeNigris told the paper. "I was frantic. When something like that happens, you got into panic mode."
Police say the van was ticketed three hours before it was towed just after 12 p.m., and that there was no indication that it was anything more than an illegally parked car.
Once DeNigris figured out the van had been towed, he raced to the pound and hurriedly tried to explain his bizarre plight.
"I tried not to be too loud," he told the News. "I didn't want to scream, 'I'm the guy from the funeral home with the car with the person in the back.'"
An hour and a half later, DeNigris rescued the corpse from the city's graveyard of forlorn cars and dejected drivers and made it to the airport on time to put the body on a scheduled flight to Miami, where it was headed for cremation.
In light of the strange circumstances, the tow pound waived the $185 fee when it returned the van (and the corpse), but DeNigris still has a $115 ticket from the city for parking illegally – and he plans to fight it.
He says funeral cars moving bodies should not have to abide by the city's stringent parking regulations.
"It's frustrating," DeNigris told the News. "But this is New York City. Things like this are not uncommon."
DeNigris acknowledged the van's tinted windows likely obscured the white cardboard box in back containing the body. He also said he had a placard identifying the vehicle as belonging to a funeral director on official business, but also admitted it was worn down and hard to see – a problem he planned to rectify.