The state medical examiner's office yesterday completed its final scientific tests to positively identify all 49 victims of Flight 5191, which enabled the Fayette County coroner's staff to notify the families that the bodies could be released to funeral homes.
All of the families received word by yesterday afternoon.
But Coroner Gary Ginn said he didn't know how long it would take for all of the victims to be released because that largely depends on how soon funeral directors can get to Frankfort. Some funeral home staffers began arriving at the State Central Laboratory to pick up the victims yesterday afternoon, he said.
Ginn said the final three positive identifications were made by 10:10 a.m. yesterday using dental records. Tissue found at the crash site was also successfully matched with eight other bodies, he said.
Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Tracey Corey, Kentucky's chief medical examiner, announced that all 49 victims had been identified but that some final test results were pending.
Ginn, however, said later in the day that positive identifications had been confirmed for just 46 victims.
Corey adamantly maintained that there was "no discrepancy."
"They had all been identified," she said, adding that there were "tentative identifications" for three victims and final test results pending for eight more.
She said the difference between what Fletcher had announced and Ginn's assessment was that Ginn "just went into more detail."
Still, the victims' bodies weren't authorized to be released until yesterday morning.
The governor's announcement on Wednesday did spark consternation among relatives of the victims.
Rick Queen, whose father-in-law Leslie Morris died in the crash Sunday, said that throughout the five-day ordeal, families have learned details about the victims in face-to-face meetings with the coroner and others.
First hearing news about the bodies all being identified at the Wednesday press conference was a little disturbing, he added.
"We were disappointed that information and the announcement about the IDs was made via a press conference before any of the families were notified," Queen said.
Fletcher's spokeswoman yesterday referred all questions about the governor's announcement to Corey, the chief medical examiner.