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Families outraged over burial locations at Jacksonville cemetery

3:37 PM, May 24, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A viewer contacted First Coast News saying they were outraged by what they saw at Restlawn Cemetery in Jacksonville.

"My sons are buried here," Shirley Boehm, of Jacksonville said. "My whole family is buried here."

The cemetery is important to Boehm. Her sister-in law was laid to rest there last week

"You know...I love 'em," she said as she began to cry.

Three generations of Linda Collins' family are there, too. Collins lives in Yulee.

"It breaks my heart," Collins said.

The women are talking about the people who are buried where cemetery roads used to be.

"To me, it has turned into nothing but a human garbage dump," Boehm said emphatically. "That's the way I feel about it."

Collins said it limits access to distant gravesites.

"I would like to see it back to where it used to be. Like a nice place to come," she said as she looked around the cemetery.

Boehm said, " I am not going to hush until I get some kid of answers."

First Coast News got answers from Harold Roll. He is the Restlawn cemetery's Chairman of The Board.

Roll confirms people are buried where the roads used to be. He said it has been done for the last two to three years and it will continue for about another year. Roll said the reason is for a need for space.

About access to distant graves, Roll said officials are working on getting golf carts to take families where access is limited. He expects that to happen within the next couple of months.

Jerry Nackashi is owner of the Corey-Kerlin Funeral Home. Nackashi and the Corey-Kerlin Funeral Home are not associated with Restlawn or any cemetery but they did offer some perspective.

"When you buy a grave, you have perpetual care," Nackashi explained. "In other words, that's like insurance."

First For You, how can you avoid the headaches?

"I would make pre-arrangements," Nackashi said. "Check out the cemetary. Check out the funeral home. Make sure they're in buisness for a long time. Check with your minister."

Nackashi also went on to explain what rights people have when planning for a final resting place.

"You have the rights to ask questions. Is this the right site? Can you give me a map of that site? Make sure that the vault is correct, ask the funeral director."

It is a lesson Collins and Boehm said they learned the hard way.

"I'd rather be cremated and just put in my backyard!" Boehm exclaimed.

Roll told FCN they are addressing customer complaints and that no one has come to them to break their contract and move a loved one.

Roll said If people have paid for a plot, nowhere in the contract promises that roads would be there.

Roll also said trash is being picked up on a regular basis from the cemetery. He adds they "are always open to sit down and talk."

First For You, the Florida Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services website has more information.

First Coast News

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