Mom discovers son’s death on Facebook

PHOENIX, NY (WSYR/CNN) – A woman had to learn of her son's death by logging onto Facebook.

A post online was the first sign that something awful had happened to Jackie Barden's son, Ridge. He died after he took a hit in an Upstate New York football game and suffered a head injury.

"On Facebook, it was on the news, that's how I had to learn of my son's death," said Barden who is divorced from her son's father and was not on the list to be notified in case of an emergency.

Barden spent three hours frantically trying to find out more, waiting for police or a school official to show up at her door.

"Absolutely nothing," Barden said. "We waited all the way up until the next day and still got no phone calls."

The Phoenix School District only found emergency information for one parent and that created a domino effect, with Barden falling through the cracks.

By morning, her last chance to view Ridge's body was gone. Coroner Kevin Sharp says Jackie Barden faces two emerging trends that make death notifications more challenging than ever -- the lightning speed of the Internet and divorce.

Sometimes, authorities just don't know whom they need to call.

"If the people that are there are not forthcoming that there is an estranged spouse, it can be a parent who they are not speaking to and it doesn't need to be a spouse," Sharp said. "It can be a parent, child, sister, brother, anything, we don't know. We don't know who to contact."

By the time Homer police were involved, they assumed the whole family had been notified. Chief Dan Mack regrets what happens and says in the future his department will make an effort to make sure both parents are notified independently.

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