Salvation Army helps Metro Detroit widow who spent months waiting for husband’s death certificate

Delay in death certificate led to delay in survivor’s benefits

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – A Metro Detroit widow who really suffered because of mistakes at the Wayne County Morgue received life-changing news.

Those mistakes are being corrected and someone came forward to help her out of her financial mess that was made worse by the morgue.

“I sat at my desk and cried for a few minutes and I said, ‘I got to figure out something.’ That’s when I decided to call Karen Drew,” Celia Crawford said.

Local 4 met Crawford a month ago. She could not get her husband’s death certificate from the morgue and therefore could not get her survivor’s benefits.

Read: Widow finally gets husband’s death certificate after months of waiting on Wayne County Morgue

That’s until Local 4 got involved. But Crawford’s troubles were not over. Without those benefits, she couldn’t pay her bills.

“I still had problem with my DTE bill, so I was still sweating bullets,” Crawford said. “I have my daughter and my three grandkids and we don’t want to be on the streets.”

After Local 4′s report, the Salvation Army stepped in to help Crawford.

“Salvation Army decided to pay the whole bill. So I was so grateful to them,” Crawford said. “And to Karen for coming through for me.”

The James H. Cole Funeral home came to Local 4 with a list after Drew’s last report. The list showed families with deceased loved ones, some waiting for more than two years for their death certificates.

Life insurance will not accept pending death certificates. So Drew got to work and those death certificates have finally been processed.

Read: Mistakes in the Morgue coverage

Have a case you’d like us to look into? Reach the Local 4 investigative team at 313-962-9348, or email Karen Drew at

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.