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Woman ‘sucked into parents’ grave’ after sinkhole opens up at burial plot

‘Getting sucked into your parents’ grave - it’s terrifying and traumatising,’ says lawyer as mourner launches $5m lawsuit

Adam Forrest
Monday 18 March 2019 12:40 GMT
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St. Charles Resurrection cemetery
St. Charles Resurrection cemetery

A woman visiting her parents’ burial plot in the New York City suburb of Long Island was suddenly “sucked” down into their grave, a lawsuit claims.

Joanne Cullen said she was attempting to attach a bow to a wreath at St. Charles Resurrection cemetery when a sinkhole opened up and swallowed her waist-deep into the ground.

The 64-year-old’s lawyer said the unexpected descent caused her to fall forward and smash her head on her parents’ tombstone.

Ms Cullen has filed a $5m (around £3.8m) lawsuit against the cemetery’s administrator in Queens Supreme Court, according to the New York Post.

Lawyer Joseph Perrini said: “Getting sucked into your parents’ grave when you go to visit them on a cool December afternoon with the sun going down … it’s terrifying and traumatising.”

The lawsuit alleges that the gravediggers who worked on an adjacent grave created “an underground void” that caused the sinking at the grave site of Ms Cullen’s parents Evelyn and John in December 2016.

“I will never go back there again,” Ms Cullen said in a statement through her lawyer.

The Long Island resident claims she suffers from nightmares and headaches since the incident, and now requires counselling. Ms Cullen also cracked a tooth in the fall, her lawyer said.

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“It’s outrageous that this should happen to anybody,” said Mr Perrini.

“We want to make sure the cemetery and employees learn from this. We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

St. John’s Cemetery Corporation operates the Catholic cemetery in Long Island’s Farmingdale area.

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