Mistaken Identity

Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope

Mistaken Identity

With: Mark Tabb
Meet Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak: one buried under the wrong name, one in a coma and being cared for by the wrong family.

This shocking case of mistaken identity stunned the country and made national news. Would it destroy a family? Shatter their faith? Push two families into bitterness, resentment, and guilt?

Read this unprecedented story of two traumatized families who describe their ordeal and explore the bond sustaining and uniting them as they deal with their bizarre reversal of life lost and life found.

And join Whitney Cerak, the sole surviving student, as she comes to terms with her new identity, forever altered, yet on the brink of new beginnings.

Mistaken Identity weaves a complex tale of honesty, vulnerability, loss, hope, faith, and love in the face of one of the strangest twists of circumstances imaginable.
  • Howard Books | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439153550 | 
  • March 2009
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Mistaken Identity

An event that could be seen as pure tragedy becomes a celebration of life's unfathomable gifts and mysteries.

About the Authors

Don & Susie Van Ryn
Photo Credit:

Don & Susie Van Ryn

The Van Ryn family -- Don, Susie, Lisa, Kenny, and Mark -- of Grand Rapids, Michigan shares an avid interest in outdoor recreation. Don and Susie, married for thirty years, are leaving their chosen professions to dedicate themselves full time to an outdoor camping experience for youth in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Lisa is pursuing a career in physical therapy, and Kenny lives and works in Southern California. Mark is recently married and resides in the Detroit area.

Despite the sorrow surrounding the passing of their daughter Laura,the family continues to be involved in the work of their local church and community.

Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak
Photo Credit:

Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak

The Cerak family -- Newell, Colleen, Carly, Whitney and Sandra Sepulveda -- lives in northern Michigan, where Newell is a youth pastor and Colleen is a PE teacher and coach.

Carly graduated from Taylor University and has lived in Africa for the last six months starting a new ministry to street kids.

Sandra took a year from Grand Valley State University and joined with Invisible Children to bring awareness of the plight of children in Uganda. She is currently back at GVSU finishing her nursing degree.

Whitney is now a junior at Taylor University majoring in psychology. She is confident in God's healing and the revelation of the Holy Spirit in her life.