Local Family Sues Cemetery Over Burial Of Grandmother

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A local family says their loved one’s remains weren’t treated with respect at a cemetery and now the matter is going to court.

“They just totally disrespected her body, her belief,” Lisa Carey said.

She says her 92-year-old grandmother, Agnes Zimmick, was buried at St. Stanislaus Cemetery in Shaler two years ago.

After the graveside ceremony, Carey and her daughter walked around to view other relatives’ graves, including her grandfather, Theodore Zimmick, who married her grandmother in the 40’s and died in World War II.

But when she returned, she says she saw the gravediggers trying to get the casket in the ground.

“They were jumping on top of – it looked like the coffin,” Carey said. “They had just put it down into the ground and they were jumping on it and they had the poles to try to wedge it – it looked like they were trying to wedge it down into the spot, into the burial spot.

“So the person who seemed to be in charge that day came over and had indicated that a piece of marble that was next to the actual gravesite was a tombstone of someone else that had been deceased and buried in that spot – that had disintegrated and that they had removed all of that out.

“And my concern was – ‘Are they reselling plots?’”

The cemetery denies that’s what happened. Annabelle McGannon, executive director of the Catholic Cemeteries Association, issued a statement.

“It is ludicrous to think that after 50 years, handling 3500 burials that we could allow that kind of thing to happen. One of the disappointing things about accusations like these is that the dedicated employees who have handled the dead with care are sitting ducks with no way to respond.

“The family filed a complaint and we investigated it thoroughly. We are confident after our investigation that the allegations are unfounded.”

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  • Digger

    For those of you that may be confused, point A – it’s not a coffin, it’s a casket- point B cemeteries require a vault, a vault is an outer lining usually made of concrete or steel that protects the surrounding ground from collapse as well as its contents from the intrusion of outside elements. Yes sometimes when the vault lid is placed on the vault with the casket in it, the vault handler will need to ride on top of the vault into the ground to make sure that it goes in straight as well as release the lowering cables from the sides of the vault. Sometimes it gets nudged on one wall or another and it does need to be pried away from the wall. This same scenario happens every day all over the country…………

  • Carol Smith

    In 1980, I threatened to sue St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lawrenceville after my grandparents’ headstone “disappeared” from their graves. When I confronted the superintendent, he bluntly told me it was my word against his regarding my grandparents’ graves. Fortunately, I had paperwork detailing location and ownership of the graves and recent photos of the then-missing headstone. After threatening to sue the cemetery and the diocese, the superintendent reluctantly agreed to place a new stone on my grandparents’ graves. There is no doubt in my mind that St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lawrenceville was, at that time, clearing away old headstones and markers and reselling the graves. And yes, I still have the paperwork and photos. Even after all these years, I still do not trust the Catholic cemeteries!

    • Ernest P. Worrel

      If we have learned anything from the movie, “Poltergeist”, it is not to disturb the rest of the dead.

  • Bob

    Digger, your post is correct except not all cemeteries require outer burial containers. Manipulating the lid is a far cry from jumping up and down on the casket. Whether that is what happened, I was not there and cannot speak to it. I have caught maintenance crews doing just this before, and have terminated more than one for such treatment. Carol, you are making some very serious accusations, reselling graves is a serious crime, and if you have proof of this, you should have gone to the authorities and not just waited to post on some message board.
    Who to believe? Don’t know. I have investigated these type accusations and it has gone both ways in my experiences. The reporter in this ariticle first states, “A local family says their loved one’s remains weren’t treated with respect at a cemetery and now the matter is going to court.” Then states disrespect. Proof reading is a lost art, I suppose. Hopefully someone will get the facts and put this to rest for everyone involved. http://www.cemops,com

    • Bob

      And I didn’t proof read any better than I suggested the reporter did. My bad!

      I just hope everybody can get through this during a difficult time of year.

  • Bob

    And if Digger is right and the outer burial containers are used, there would only be one excuse for jumping on a casket. If the casket were oversized and the vault was not, but still not acceptable.

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