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August 30. 2012 12:09AM

Gravestone falls and traps 3-year-old girl

 
SOMERSWORTH — A game of hide-and-seek in a cemetery ended with a 3-year-old being pinned under a 500-pound gravestone Wednesday morning.

Police and firefighters responded at 10:41 a.m. after receiving a report that a girl was trapped under a gravestone in Forest Glade Cemetery near Maple Street, according to Fire Lt. Kenneth Vincent.

Vincent said the child was walking in the cemetery with a caretaker and a few other children.

Police Capt. Russ Timmons said it appears the children were playing, and two may have been hiding behind the gravestone. He said it is possible the gravestone toppled as the two kids “were looking over the top of it.”

Police did not release the name of the girl or those involved in the incident.

Timmons said the girl was lucky that the contours of the ground helped prevent the gravestone from causing more serious injuries, even though her leg was pinned under it.

“It landed on an angle,” Timmons said.

“It was an old gravestone,” Vincent said, adding it took four people — two officers and two firefighters — to lift the grave marker and free the girl.

As a precaution, Vincent said ambulance crews from American Medical Response transported her to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover.

Timmons noted that some gravestones have been in place for a long time, and that they can be eroded by the elements.

Although the city maintains the cemetery, officials will have to look into how to initiate the process to repair the overturned gravestone, Tom Willis, director of Somersworth’s Public Works Department, said.

“Tombstones are the property of descendants of the deceased unless they (the graves) are abandoned or (the relatives) can’t be located,” Willis said.

“It’s a case-by-case basis,” he said.

 

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Park City police investigating why tombstone fell, killed child
Accident » Boy, 4, killed while at cemetery with family.
| By MICHELLE RINDELS | The Associated Press
First Published Jul 06 2012 09:45 am • Last Updated Aug 21 2012 12:21 pm
A 4-year-old Lehi boy was posing for photos with family and friends at a historic Park City cemetery when a tombstone toppled over and killed him, police said.

Carson Dean Cheney was holding onto the headstone Thursday when some metal connecting it to the pedestal broke, said Park City police Capt. Phil Kirk.

He was trying to make some other children laugh for the photos by pretending to be a leprechaun, said Curtis Morley, a family friend. Morley said the boy went behind a tombstone and was playfully poking his head out from behind it when it fell on him.

"Carson passed away while trying to make others smile," Morley said.

Carson was just about to enter kindergarten, loved to ride his bike and was "full of life," said his grandmother, Geri Gibbs.

"There’s still so much disbelief and sorrow and anguish," she said.

"We just keep waiting for the door to open up and Carson to come through, a happy little boy."

Gibbs said the boy and his family were visiting from Lehi. She said it took three men to pull the slab off the boy, and rescuers "did everything they could possibly do."

The child suffered injuries to his head, chest and abdomen and was taken to the nearby Park City Medical Center, where he died.

Morley works with the boy’s father, Zac Cheney, at a professional services firm in Salt Lake City. He said Zac Cheney does photography in his spare time and was shooting portraits at the cemetery because of its extensive landscaping.

Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter said the coarse stone at the Glenwood Cemetery in Park City, about 4 inches thick, marked the grave of someone who died in the 1800s.

Bruce Erickson, president of the Glenwood Cemetery Association, said the private, five-acre cemetery was founded by a society of silver miners in 1885, and many of the 900 tombstones are at least 100 years old. The cemetery is open to the public and still accepts burials of people connected to the mining society.

Erickson said no funerals were held there Thursday.

New burials happen about once a year, he said, and families are responsible for maintaining the headstones.

"I don’t know where the family is, or if they even exist anymore," Erickson said. "We normally do not do anything with the headstones because they are property of the family."

Erickson said the cemetery likely will be closed through the weekend.

Carson’s funeral is set for Tuesday at the Colony Pointe LDS Chapel, 1998 W. 900 North, Lehi. Visitation with the family is from 9 to 11 a.m., with the service to follow at 11:30 a.m.

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Update to Freak Cemetery Accident that Has 2-Year-Old Girl Fighting for Her Life
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Graves destroyed by Bristol councillor in bizarre cemetery accident

Friday, April 9th, 2010

A councillor apologised after demolishing six graves in a cemetery – by driving over them in her CAR.

Heartbroken relatives thought the burial plots at Mangotsfield Cemetery in Bristol had been vandalised on Easter Sunday.

But local politician Shirley Potts has now come forward to admit she accidentally mowed them down when her muddy foot slipped onto her brand new car’s accelerator.

The ”freak accident” -  which left some burial plots wide open – happened after the retired teacher had visited her son’s graveyard.

She has now apologised to the family involved and says she feels ”devastated” by the damage she caused.

Mrs Potts, 73, the Labour councillor for Staple Hill in South Gloucestershire, said: ”It was a completely freak accident – it was only a matter of yards.

”I’m so sorry it happened but there was nothing I could’ve done about it at all.

”There’s no dispute about who is to blame – it happened in seconds and it was so unfortunate.

”My heart went out because I had just visited my own son’s grave and I knew how I would have felt.”

The accident happened at around 2.30pm on Sunday after Mrs Potts had been to visit the grave of her son nearby.

She scraped the mud from her feet before getting into her brand new grey Hyundai i10, which has an automatic gearbox.

But just as she turned to pull away her foot slipped sideways from the accelerator and lodged under the brake.

As it slipped her heel clipped the accelerator, and as she tried to pull her foot free the car sped forwards and slammed into six graves belonging to members of the same family.

Relatives say they were not informed about the incident and immediately suspected vandals were responsible when they visited their loved one’s graves later that day.

Grieving Yvonne Orchard, 31, found her grandmother’s headstone had been completely destroyed and her brother’s grave lay gaping open.

She assumed vandals had ”deliberately” attacked the graves with a vehicle, as car parts littered the scene and tyre marks had scorched the grass

But Cllr Potts says she informed the relevant authorities and has spent the last few days trying to contact relatives.

She said: ”When I initially reported the accident they said don’t make any contact but I really wanted to write to her and apologise.

”I have contacted the officer who deals with the cemeteries and asked her to get Mrs Orchard’s permission to get her details so I can send a letter of apology.

”I made all the contacts I should with the emergency centre but it was Easter Sunday and there was no way I could have found Mrs Orchard’s contacts on the day.”

Mrs Orchard said the graves had been previously targeted by vandals and estimates the damage caused by Mrs Potts may cost more than £15,000 to repair.

But she said she is relieved to hear that the damage was caused by accident.

The communications manager from Bristol said: ”The council has told us that the lady concerned has admitted the accident.

”It would have been nice to receive an apology as I’m sure she didn’t do it deliberately but must have appreciated the distress it must have caused.

”It would just have been good to have an explanation of how it happened.

”However, I am very glad that she came forward and that she did not injure herself. We are certainly not angry with her and feel no animosity towards her.

”We are sure it was an accident and accidents happen. The fact that she came forward at all means we can now put our minds at rest that this was an accident and not mindless vandalism.

”At the end of the day we just want this horrible mess to go away.”

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police yesterday confirmed that the person responsible for the damage had come forward.

Inspector Kevin Thatcher said: ”Officers have spoken to the person responsible and this matter is no longer being treated as criminal damage but as a collision.

”We have spoken to the woman whose family’s graves were damaged and updated her with the current state of our enquiries.”

Annie Mullins

Twitter: @swns

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