The title of this blog refers to an article on the WNEP-TV website that reads, “Man Killed by Falling Headstone While Decorating Family Grave … THROOP [near Scranton, in northeast Pennsylvania] — A man decorating a gravesite for Easter  died Monday morning when a headstone fell on him in Lackawanna County.”
Accidental cemetery deaths are not an unusual occurrence. A child recently died while playing in a churchyard cemetery in North Carolina. While attending Vacation Bible School, this WCYB.com story (click for link) states, “the children were running around when a massive cross fell off a tombstone and struck the girl.”
A child died in Glenwood Cemetery in Park City, Utah in 2012, when a four-inch-thick, several hundred pound tombstone fell on him. According to Fox News, his father was taking pictures at the time (click for link).
There is a very subtle phrase in the recent Throop, PA story that I would like to clarify for you. When the caretaker says “some of the bases tilt and the stones on top can slip” what he means is this: When a headstone is installed, a stone base is placed in the ground and then the headstone is placed on this base. It has been done like this in the United States probably since the 1890s. You can see an example of such a n installation in this YouTube video, “How to Install a monument in a cemetery.” Also, if you look at my photo below of a vandalized grave marker, you can see that the headstone is typically not attached to the base.
|Fallen headstone, unattached to base|
|U.S. Government-issues grave markers|
|Ed Snyder with fallen decorative granite urn|
|Monument off which urn had fallen|