BROOLYN, NY – The NYPD has launched an investigation into a Brooklyn funeral home after finding dozens of bodies stored in U Haul trucks Wednesday, WNBC New York reports.
Police discovered approximately 50 bodies in as many as four unrefrigerated moving trucks at the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in the Flatlands neighborhood, after a neighboring business reported seeing liquid leaking from the vehicles — evidently from the melting ice that the funeral home had packed them within an effort to slow decay. Neighbors had also complained about a stench coming from the trucks.
John DiPietro, who owns a neighboring business, told the New York Post that he had observed bodies being stored in the trucks for several weeks, though police have not confirmed his allegations.
“You don’t respect the dead that way,” DiPietro said. “That could have been my father, my brother. You don’t do that to the dead.”
An estimated 17,000 New Yorkers have lost their lives in the ongoing pandemic, and while it is unknown if any of the deceased found in the trucks had died of COVID-19, the incident illustrates the grim realities in the city’s funeral homes and morgues.
But local politicians say that increased demand is no excuse for cut corners.
“Families have an expectation that the remains of their loved ones are handled in a respectful and dignified manner,” said Roxanne Persaud, the state senator who represents the area.
“When this funeral director decided to take a body from a private home, a hospital or from wherever they knew their capacity,” she continued. “If you’re bringing in U-Hauls to store bodies you know you’re overcapacity.”
Brooklyn Burough President Eric Leroy Adams concurred, calling it “unacceptable” and “endemic of a larger problem.”
WNBC reports that the bodies were later transported to a refrigerated truck, and that the funeral home’s owner had only resorted to the U Haul trucks after the specialty vehicle he ordered was late on arrival. Police said that in light of the logistical challenges presented by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the owner was not facing any immediate criminal charges. He did however receive two citations from the Department of Health.
DISCLAIMER: This article is part of an ongoing series of coronavirus-related items provided by Finz & Finz, P.C. It is not presented as legal advice. However, if you or someone you love has been impacted by the coronavirus, contact our New York COVID attorneys today for a free, no-obligation consultation.