Mourners horrified as coffin pops open while struggling to fit it in small grave
A coffin popped open to reveal the corpse inside in a botched burial because the grave was too small, a lawsuit claims.
In an attempt to shake the casket free after it got stuck being lowered into the earth, undertakers ended up revealing the remains of a 79-year-old woman.
Legal action launched against staff at The Evergreens Cemetery in New York City, describes the horror of 35 mourners who were forced to watch Claribel Oppenheimer's "rough" burial on June 24.
Her friends and family could see Oppenheimer’s hands had been knocked out of position, having been carefully folded in the funeral home, the lawsuit alleges.
According to the NYPost, Eric Rothstein, an attorney for Oppenheimer’s children said: "I believe that the cemetery is in the business of burying people and I think the most basic thing they do every day is dig holes."
"How something like this happens is beyond me."
The lawsuit, which has been filed in state Supreme Court in the Bronx, states 35 mourners at the cemetery had said their final prayers and placed roses on Oppenheimer's coffin before the alleged bungling burial.
As the coffin scraped against the dug out sides, workers "pushed, lifted and lowered the coffin over and over to try to get into the ground" until they broke into a row among themselves, the lawsuit claims.
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The aggressive "pulling and tugging" even once the lid had come off, left tearful mourners fearing Oppenheimer’s body would fall out, the lawsuit said.
To make the grave bigger, workers placed the coffin on the ground for an hour and "yelled to move out of the way," the grieving family report.
Rothstein told The Post the treatment added insult to injury, he said: "It’s just one more piece of an already horrific situation.
"It meant more grief, mental anguish that no one should have to suffer."
The body was eventually transferred to a new undamaged coffin at a nearby funeral home and lowered to its final resting place — headfirst rather than horizontally, the suit claims.
After four hours waiting around in the summer heat, one mourner was treated for chest pain suffered at the cemetery, according to the lawsuit.
One worker allegedly told the family “this section of the cemetery has had this problem before with coffins not fitting properly into the graves.”
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