Multiple graves in the Snuffer Cemetery were displaced last week by what appeared to be a vehicle veering off the cemetery’s path and hitting three different headstones.
One headstone was pushed halfway into the ground on its side, while a 2,000-pound headstone beside was knocked off its base and had a tire mark left on its base. The third headstone was knocked over with the 2,000 pound monument laying partially on top of it.
“I hope that it was an accident rather than being vandalism, but I just wish somebody would have the decency to come forward and say ‘Hey, we had an accident,’ or at least say ‘I’m sorry,’” said Joyce Osborne, the closest relative to the people whose graves were displaced, which were her grandmother, grandfather, aunt and uncle.
Osborne said she was sad, discouraged and angry when she saw what happened at Snuffer Cemetery. She also later said that she doesn’t think she will be able to come to the cemetery without thinking about it and will always fear that it may happen again.
The Laurel County Sheriff’s Department believes the situation was a hit-and-run accident and not a purposeful act of vandalism, according to Lieutenant Robbie Grimes. It is not being inspected as an intentional act and the investigation is still looking for leads.
Osborne immediately called the Sheriff’s Department to file a report when she found out about it on July 9. She said someone left the information with her daughter and when she returned home later that afternoon and found out, she immediately went to Snuffer Cemetery.
Brian House, the funeral director at Laurel Funeral Home, saw what had happened on Facebook last week and offered to fix the displaced headstones for free.
“We are a business, but everything’s not about money,” said House, who has been in the funeral business his entire life.
House had already planned to be at Snuffer Cemetery later that week to fix other headstones, and he already had a relationship with Osborne, as she went through House when he worked at a different funeral home after her mother passed away.
“I am very appreciative to Laurel Funeral Home and Brian House for offering his assistance to help me out because that was something he didn't have to do. He was under no obligation at all to do that, so I’m very appreciative of him offering,” said Osborne.
House said he had never seen that type of damage in a cemetery without someone owning up to the situation and reporting themselves.
“Accidents do happen, but most people will say, ‘Hey, look what I did. I need to fix this,’” House said.
House and his employees put the headstones back on their base with four pennies in between them, placing one on each corner, which prevents water from making the headstone slide off the base when it gets wet. They then used headstone putty to keep them in place.
The only visible damage after House and his employees made repairs was a chip on the back corner of the 2,000-pound headstone belonging to Osborne’s grandparents and where one of the other headstones had been pushed into the ground. House said the hole would make a good spot to place some flowers.
If anyone has any information about the displacement of the headstones at Snuffer Cemetery, they can contact the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department by calling them at 606-864-6600.