CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jonathan Thomas' injuries were so severe his family kept a closed casket during his funeral.
When they found out an emergency medical technician had taken photographs of the 30-year-old UPS driver's body and shared the photos, they were heartbroken, said his mother, Darla Thomas.
Although there isn't a state law prohibiting taking photographs of corpses, a lawsuit filed by Thomas' family in Greenbrier Circuit Court against Quinwood Emergency Ambulance Inc. contends that family members have privacy rights that control the exploitation of deceased family members.
Jonathan Thomas' parents, Darla and Lowell Thomas Jr., and their daughter, Shena, filed the lawsuit against the ambulance company and Alderson resident Angel Willis, who allegedly took the photos.
Jonathan Thomas died last year after being stung by a bee. The impairments from the sting caused him to swerve his work vehicle -- a UPS truck -- into a home in Crawley, not far from his home in Rainelle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the lawsuit, Willis took photos -- not for diagnostic or legitimate purposes -- of the man with her cell phone. The photos were later circulated through the community with Willis' co-workers and others at New River Community and Technical Center.
"The offending photographs clearly depicted identifying features of Jonathan Thomas as well as his mortal wounds ... they were unsightly, intrusive and outside the bounds of decency," the lawsuit states.
No one was available to comment on the lawsuit on Friday at Quinwood's office in Rainelle. A working phone number for Willis could not be found. Depositions in the case are scheduled for October.
This wasn't the first time Willis had done something like this, according to the lawsuit.