Caskets Unearthed At Cemetery Due To Heavy Rainfall: Coffins Rises From Burial Vaults After Extreme Rains Hit Maryland

Heather Tooley - Author

Jun. 22 2015, Updated 8:14 p.m. ET

Caskets were unearthed at a cemetery due to heavy rainfall saturating the ground. William Chase Jr. and his brother, Donnell Chase, went to visit their father’s grave at Cedar Hill Cemetery over the weekend and made a shocking discovery. Part of the deceased man’s casket was out of its burial vault, and the vault was filled with water.

WJLA Channel 7 reports that the casket in Suitland, Maryland, was about 50 feet away from where a creek surrounds the cemetery property.

“And I told my brother does that look like a piece of a casket over there?” said William Chase Jr.

The brothers were understandably upset and distraught over the casket being unearthed at the cemetery. Chase said he was concerned because it was somebody’s family member.

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Once cemetery officials were contacted, workers rushed to the site.

Saturday’s storm of continuous rainfall caused the creek to overflow, which destroyed part of the retaining wall. In turn, this made for the erosion of soil with fast-moving water going through it.

“This should never happen here or no other cemetery where the public has a chance to see it,” said Chase Jr.

The brothers don’t think that the cemetery should be burying people so close to the creek. Cedar Hill Cemetery officials haven’t commented on the casket being unearthed due storms.

Chase, Jr. says it’s unacceptable that this happened.

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“I know people love their family members and they spend a lot of money to bury their people over here and to have a casket like that and a vault like that is unacceptable.”

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Cemetery officials say that they’ll repair the damage to the retaining wall and will fill in the erosion as soon as possible. They also want to work with the family about relocating the casket to another part of the cemetery.

NBC 4 Washington reports that another family had the same horrific experience on Father’s Day. Caskets and headstones were found drifting in water. The headstones belonged to at least four family members.

Billie Jo Miles and her brother, Richard, saw the casket of their father about 50 feet from where he was supposed to be buried.

“I have my mom here, my dad here, my sister here. I have over 100 relatives here and this is just crazy,” Miles said.

The Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight inspected the property on Monday and said that the retaining wall is scheduled to be repaired Tuesday. The office released a statement about the caskets being unearthed at the cemetery.

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“Should affected families wish for their loved ones to remain at their original burial site or be moved to another location, it will be done at no cost to the families.”

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There was a concern seven years ago about the ground near the cemetery eroding, prompting caskets to rise out of their vaults. The issue was resolved with some work, but due to heavy rainfall this time around, that fear became a reality.

[Photo Credit: NBC 4 Washington screenshot]


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