SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Families can find solace and comfort at the graves of their loved ones, but for the Tillis family, a recent visit to Oakwood Cemetery brought heartache and grief.
Loved ones found three of their family members’ headstones toppled over Thursday from an apparent vehicle collision. To their surprise, they hadn’t been notified by the cemetery owners of the incident that occurred Wednesday night around 10 pm according to Syracuse Police.
“I feel like at the very least they could have offered an apology they could have offered to meet us here offered or explained why they didn’t know what they knew and then let us know what they were going to do about it,” Susie Ferguson, the wife of Willie Ferguson whos grave headstone had been knocked over said.
Oakwood Cemetery declined an interview but told NewsChannel 9 that it’s their company policy to wait until a police report is filed before they contact the family. The Syracuse Police Department filed the report Thursday and Oakwood Cemetery said the family arrived to visit the gravesite before they could contact them.
Sisters Judy Spaights and Marine Jones were devastated to see their mother and brothers’ joint headstone knocked over in the incident, unable to properly grieve the anniversary of their mother’s death on Friday because of the situation.
“We want to come up here and memorialize our loved ones, but to come to this is not acceptable,” Jones said.
Ferguson’s husband was a decorated Vietnam Veteran, having received two purple hearts and multiple other awards during his time in service.
“I’m already trying to get over the grief of losing my husband and now that he’s been resurrected so to speak, I’ve got to relive that down all over again,” she said.
The family is upset that the cemetery didn’t call to tell them about the vehicle collision as soon as they found out nor call to apologize for what had happened on their grounds.
“I felt like we should have gotten a call immediately once it happened even though you had to say yes a police report has been filed but don’t go up there or don’t touch anything, I would have felt better, but we didn’t get anything,” Spaights said.
Both headstones were put back up on Monday morning but there is visible damage.
Syracuse Police are asking anyone with information to contact them at (315) 442-5222.