Dead Son Reunited with Family
Police said Justin Priest was dead, in a case of mistaken identity.

Police in a small Alaska town mistakenly told a couple their son had been killed in a car crash, leading to an extraordinary reunion hours later.

A police officer in Palmer arrived at the home of Karen and Jay Priest at 3pm on Thursday and informed them their son Justin, 29, had been killed.

After hearing the devastating news, the Priests telephoned relatives to inform them of their loss and then drove to Anchorage to tell their other son in person, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

The family then drove to Justin Priest's girlfriend's home to tell her of the tragedy, but on arrival were greeted by their 'dead' son, standing at the door.

Justin Priest said he heard a knock on the door as he was getting ready to step out of the house to take his dog for a walk, and was surprised to see his parents.

Describing the emotional scenes as they were reunited with the son they had earlier been told had been killed, Mrs Priest said: "It opens and right here is Justin. I don't even see it, but Jay is sobbing. It doesn't compute to me. Then I see him. You want it to be true, but you go, 'Am I hallucinating?' Justin didn't know what was going on."

It was later revealed that another man with the same name, but different birthday, had been killed in the accident.

The Juneau police apologised for the error and the anguish caused to the family.

Justin Priest meanwhile, said his family's relief at his safe return was tempered by their acute awareness that another family lost a son.