Family cancels funeral for CSU Bakersfield student after wrong victim identified

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. -- Equipped with backpacks, binoculars, even life jackets, family members of Alondra Orozco on Thursday set out for a third straight day of searching. They are hoping to find the 21-year-old after she was swept away by the rushing currents of the Tule River on April 14.

Family members said the Cal State Bakersfield student tried to save her friend after she fell into the water.

"You help other people before you help yourself, and that's the first thing she did, she didn't think twice about it," said Daniel Orozco, Alondra Orozco's brother.

Orozco's cousin called for help, and Tulare County search-and-rescue crews recovered one of the bodies later that morning. More family members showed up and Orozco's brother Daniel said his uncle was the first to see pictures of that body, and believed it to be Alondra.

Daniel said while the pictures did resemble their sister, they had doubts about whether it was really her.

"We weren't sure, we didn't say, we didn't identify her or say yeah it is her, we just looked at it and broke down a little bit."

Daniel said he then asked to see the body and that a chaplain told him he could. But when they got closer, Daniel said he was told over and over again that he couldn't and would have to wait until his sister was brought to a funeral home in Delano.

So Orozco's family started planning a funeral.

"We had everything organized, we had services times, we had church times, cemetery times, and then Monday we find out none of this is true."

That's when Daniel said his family received a call from the family of the other woman who was swept away, Shreya Singh, who said they were informed that Singh was the one who was found last week, not Orozco.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Office released a statement Thursday that said:

"Our first responders initially relied solely on witness statements at the scene provided by family and friends. The only information obtained at that time was that the recovered decedent was Orozco, however, it was not definitive. Further investigation at the Coroner's Office was conducted to confirm the witness statements. While comparing the decedent to DMV thumbprints on file, it was learned that the decedent was misidentified by family members on scene. Both families were notified by our office once a definitive identification had been made by the thumbprint on Monday."
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