Phoenix (WSYR-TV) -- The mother of Phoenix football player Ridge Barden, who died after a game a couple of weeks ago, is calling on police departments and school districts across the state to take a closer look at their notification policies.
A post online was the first sign that something awful had happened to Jackie Barden's son.
"On facebook, on the news, that's how I had to learn of my son's death," Jackie said.
She spent hours frantically trying to find out more information. Once she confirmed the news that night, she waited for police or a school official to show up at her door or call with details.
"We waited all the way up until the next day and still got no phone calls.”
By morning, she understood her last chance to view Ridge's body was gone. Cortland County Coroner Kevin Sharp says Jackie Barden faces two emerging trends that are making death notifications more challenging than ever before -- the lightning speed of the internet and divorce.
"If the people that are there are not forthcoming that there is an estranged spouse or a parent who they are not speaking to, and it doesn't need to be a spouse, it can be a parent, child, sister, brother, anyone," Sharp said. "We don't know who to contact.”
The Phoenix school district found an emergency phone number for Ridge's father. Their lack of information from Jackie created a domino effect, with her falling through the cracks.
By the time Homer police were involved, they assumed the whole family had been notified. Police Chief Dan Mack regrets the assumption and says, in the future, his department will make an effort to make sure both parents are notified independently.
"I would really hope that people just take a look and start realizing that things have to change so that no other parent would have to suffer and go through what I went through,” Barden said.
The Phoenix school superintendent stressed that both parents in divorced families need to make sure they update contact information every year.