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Dead man walking: 'Victim' has drink at his own wake
CanWest News Service
Saturday, September 18, 2004
TORONTO -- After miraculously surviving his own funeral, Dane Squires did what was in his mind the most sensible thing: he cracked open the first bottle at his wake.
"He (had) seen all the liquor and he said, 'Is this for me? Is this my celebration? I think I should be the one to crack it,' " his sister, Dianna Branton, recalled Friday. Squires opened a bottle of Captain Morgan dark rum and took two honourable slugs.
The 49-year-old had shocked his sister out of her skin Thursday morning when he came shuffling up her street in Toronto, while his daughter, family and friends were paying their last respects to a dead man they thought was Squires in a nearby funeral parlour. The sister had been too upset to attend the funeral.
"I sat there on the steps screaming," Branton said. "He said, 'Why are you so upset?' I said, 'Dane, everyone's at your funeral."'
The pair then called the funeral home and Squires spoke to his daughter, Trina, who had just helped carry what she believed was his coffin into the hearse.
Trina Squires screamed to the hearse driver to stop, just before the body headed away for cremation.
"Buddy at the funeral home said, 'Who are you?' " Dane Squires said Friday. "I said, 'I'm the guy you got laid out there.' I said, 'Put the wife on,' (referring to his ex-wife, Barb Warner.)
"She said, 'Dane, you're dead.' I said, 'No, I'm not.' "
The mix-up began Sunday when Branton called police, who were seeking the identity of a man killed by a Toronto commuter train Sept. 10.
Police drove Branton to the downtown morgue, where she identified the badly mangled corpse -- she said she was only permitted a glimpse at the face -- as her brother.
"Same teeth, same eyes, a scar, everything. I said everything was the same. I thought it was my brother," she said.
Dane Squires, forced to give up his welding career owing to a bad back, is essentially homeless and prone to wander off for days on end, his sister explained.
His family planned a funeral in Toronto, with Squires' ashes to be buried later with his parents at a cemetery in St. Philip, near St. John's, Nfld.
The discovery that their dead relative was in fact alive, prompted a celebration late Thursday of epic proportions at a family home in Toronto.
"Two 28s, three 24s, two 12s and a six-pack," Squires' nephew, Tyler Branton boasted, showing off the empties. He was elated to have his uncle alive, after having the grim task of being a pallbearer Thursday, wearing the suit in which he graduated from Grade 6. He had also read a poem at the funeral.
But amid the joy there was also anger. The family attacked authorities, saying they should have used something more than one person's word to identify the dead man. They said it showed how disposable the homeless are in Toronto society.
Larry Branton, Squires' brother-in-law, sat down by a picnic table beside the house and had a cigarette, and a cry.
"I pity the poor homeless people," he said. "A city like Toronto should be able to help these people. I feel for them."
Squires said Friday that he now faces the task of reapplying for a disability pension that was cut off after he was pronounced dead. He said he also wants to travel to St. John's to visit his brother, whom he hasn't seen in close to 20 years.
"I want to save my cash and go back home," he said. "I want to see my brother and kiss him."
CREDIT: Canadian Press
John Dane Squires gives a thumb up Friday as he gets a hug from his sister Diana Branton. Squires was thought to be dead. Last week Branton had identified what she thought was her brother's badly disfigured body after a man, fitting Squires' description, was found dead after being hit by a commuter train.