Grieving woman faces red tape
There is no happy ending.
But a conflict involving county policies in two states, which compounded what had been an already-difficult situation for a woman whose husband recently died, seems to have at least found a solution.
On July 26, Kristy Nixon's husband, Elvin, lost control of the motorcycle he was riding in Golden Valley, where the Nixons live.
He sustained head injuries and was flown to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he died Aug.
"She was devastated," Lynne Steiger, a friend of the family, said of Kristy.
"Every day when I think about it, I have to hold back my tears.
Here is a couple that was making it through the everyday struggle with life, then this happened."
Nixon is working through her grief as she struggles to keep her job and care for her two children.
But there has been an additional concern.
After contacting the Las Vegas mortuary, where her husband was taken after his death, Kristy was told she would need $1,300 for cremation.
Steiger said Nixon lacks the money for a cremation, and that when she asked Clark County, where the funeral home is located, for help with the cost, she was turned down.
"They said they could not help her because Elvin was not a Clark County resident.
I also called the Mohave County Fiduciary Department to see if they could help with costs," Steiger said.
"But the law says even though he was a Mohave County resident, he did not die in Mohave County.
Therefore they won't help either."
Leroy Wright, the vice president of Palm Mortuary, where Nixon's body lies, said Nixon was not a Clark County resident, therefore the family is not in line to get any kind of aid for a cremation or burial, even if they were otherwise eligible.
Wright said Kristy called him for a death certificate but that he could not issue one at that time.
"We can't file a death certificate until we know the disposition of the body – whether he will be cremated or buried," Wright said.
"But I will work with her on the cost."
For the first three weeks after Nixon's death, there was no progress made in either Arizona or Nevada.
This past week, Nixon's brother has offered to loan Kristy the money for cremation.
"My brother-in-law, Jay, has stepped up to the plate and said he would loan me the money.
They are lowering the cost $300," she said.
"I am just trying to keep it all together.
I'm a single mom now."
She added that the death certificate has been signed and plans are being made to cremate the body.
Wright is working with the family, but in a situation where a body is not claimed within 30 days, Wright said he files with the county for abandonment of the body and then receives authorization to go ahead with the burial.
However, Mary Ann Salmon of Nevada Social Services said whoever originally told Nixon that Clark County would automatically not pay for burial services – because he was not a Clark County resident – was mistaken.
"Assistance with burial or cremation costs is determined on a case-by-case basis," Salmon said.
"Burial or cremation assistance may be available to non-Nevada residents who die within Clark County, and Las Vegas is within Clark County."
Mohave County Public Fiduciary Steve Davis said that Mohave County also has an indigent burial program.
"But our involvement is governed by Arizona statutes," he said.
"If someone were pronounced dead in our county and there is no one willing or able to pay, we would pay for basic burial or cremation.
It is based on where the person actually passes away.
But they must meet eligibility (requirements) and, unfortunately, (Elvin Nixon) died in Clark County."
Davis said his office handles about 60 cases a year where someone passes away in this county with no one to pay for the burial or cremation.
"We (Mohave County) have contracts with all funeral homes in the county (to pay for basic burial or cremation)," he said.