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Family seeking answers after Toronto musician was buried in the wrong grave

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WATCH ABOVE: Scott Cushnie's friends and family were shocked to learn he had been misidentified by another family, and was buried in the wrong grave. After hearing the Ontario coroner's office made a mistake, his sister is looking for answers to how this could have happened. Matthew Bingley reports – Oct 31, 2018

Anne Hales’ dining room table is covered with old photos and newspaper clippings featuring her brother Scott Cushnie.

Many of the clippings feature notable events, like an article an Aerosmith concert where Cushnie tickled the keys with the band on stage at Massey Hall.

Hales started to gather up the mementos in preparation for a celebration of Cushnie’s life now that she finally knows how it ended.

Eighty-year-old Cushnie was better known in the music community as ‘Professor Piano.’ Throughout the pianist’s career, he had played with the likes of Ronnie Hawkins and Robbie Robertson.

READ MORE: Toronto musician Scott Cushnie, 80, missing for over a month

But in August, his friends and family were baffled when Cushnie suddenly went missing. It wasn’t until recently that they were informed he died and was buried by another family.

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The Ontario Coroner’s Office realized the mistake after the family, who identified Cushnie as their missing family member, said their family member had reappeared alive.

“It was a unique thing that happened and he was a unique guy,” said Hales, who is looking for answers into how the mistake could have possible happened.

Hales said she isn’t looking to blame anyone for the mistake, but would like to know why certain decisions were made.

“I’d like to know for instance why, if he was found with his apartment key with a fob on it, why they didn’t trace the fob,” she said.

Ontario’s chief coroner said his office doesn’t second-guess family identifications. But Dr. Dirk Huyer said he’s aware a case like this happening once before and a review is now underway to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“It’s really understanding the circumstances of this particular case, talking to those who were involved, reviewing the steps that were taken, and also looking at our procedures
to see whether our procedures would effectively manage a future occurrence of a similar type,” said Huyer.

A lover of telling quirky stories, Hales said her brother would probably be amused about the mix-up at the end of his life. Now that she knows where Cushnie went, she said she is able to process not being able to say goodbye.

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WATCH: Friends step up search for missing musician (Sept. 12)

Click to play video: 'Friends step up search for missing Toronto musician' Friends step up search for missing Toronto musician
Friends step up search for missing Toronto musician – Sep 12, 2018

But Hales said she has found some comfort in knowing he was respected, even if it was from the wrong family.

“There probably were a lot of people that thought he was someone else that came to pay their respects,” she said about his funeral.

Cushnie was exhumed early last week and his body will soon be released to his family. Plans are now underway for a public celebration of his life.

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