New York funeral home under investigation
NEW YORK – New York State health officials have suspended the licence of a funeral home in Brooklyn after decomposing bodies were found inside two U-Hall trucks outside the home in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn.
Authorities said about 100 decomposing bodies were found inside the two non-refrigerated U-Haul trucks and a U-Haul van last Wednesday.
“Funeral homes have a responsibility to manage their capacity appropriately and provide services in a respectful and competent manner,” said New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in a statement on Monday, describing the discovery of the decomposing bodies as “appalling” and “disrespectful to the families of the deceased”.
He said his office will conduct a probe into the matter.
Guyanese-born New York State Senator Roxanne Persaud has also called for a full investigation.
“I am calling for a full investigation of this funeral home and holding the responsible persons accountable for their actions,” said Persaud, adding “families have an expectation that the remains of their loved ones are handled in a respectful and dignified manner”.
Persaud said she was informed by New York Police Department (NYPD) that “a horrendous situation was occurring at an area funeral home”.
“There were bodies of deceased individuals stored in two U-Haul trucks and a car on the property,” she said, adding “also a foul odour and fluids were coming from vehicles onto the street and sidewalk”.
During a coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic briefing, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said “funeral homes are private organisations, private businesses,” and that “they have an obligation to the people they serve to treat them with dignity”.
“I have no idea in the world how any funeral home could let this happen,” he said.
Cleckley told reporters that his funeral home was overwhelmed by the unceasing dead bodies amid the pandemic.
“I ran out of space,” he said, adding “bodies are coming out of our ears.”
New York authorities said over 23 000 people have died in the state since the onset of the novel coronavirus.
A notice on the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services, Inc.’s website describes Cleckley as the owner/manager. (CMC)