A family, burying their elderly mother, gets a horrific shock when they find another body already in her grave.
It happened Friday at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Ohio County and the burial was put on hold and her family wants answers. The woman’s son and daughter-in-law were told an hour before the funeral on Friday. The person digging the grave discovered another person’s vault partway into their mother’s grave.
Nancy Mirich, 87, of Mozart had a plot waiting, beside her husband. They purchased them years ago, but in the midst of her funeral, the minister announced that graveside services were canceled due to complications.
“We had family in from over eight different states. Our daughter was home from college–her only granddaughter. We were not able to lay our mother to rest beside her husband. This was a complete and utter shock,” said daughter-in-law, Tracy Mirich.
They learned the earth had slipped, and the person buried on the other side had slid, vault and all, partway into Mrs. Mirich’s grave. The cemetery’s volunteer president said the same thing happened to her grandmother.
“She could not be buried next to her husband for the same fact. We had to bury her at the foot of his casket because of the same thing,” said Mt. Zion Cemetary Association President, Tracey Hercules.
They said when the ground gets saturated with runoff from the hillside, the earth shifts.
“So all the rain comes down and it sits there and then like mud does, it pushes stuff like gravel and everything away,” Hercules added.
Paula Stein, Vice-President of the Cemetary Association said, “The vault from the left has slid. The vault from the right has slid. Which then, in turn, did not leave enough room.”
Mrs. Mirich’s body had to be stored at the funeral home. The family looked into burying their mother in another plot, also adjacent, but lengthwise to her husband, but there they got another surprise.
“They found an unmarked grave. So we could not lay her front-to-back with her husband. We tried every option we could,” Tracy Mirich said.
Mt. Zion Cemetery has had problems in recent years. No upkeep, no one claiming ownership, original trust money long gone, and the county disavowing all connection. A group of volunteers took over, coordinating clean-ups and fund-raisers, but they said this was beyond what they ever expected, or can take responsibility for.
“We apologize for their heartache. We’re sorry that this happened and I wish there was something we could do but it really wasn’t our fault,” Hercules said.
The Mirich’s said this is bad on so many levels, from emotional to financial.
“Oh, they bought their plots decades ago. They bought them in good faith that the cemetery would be well cared for. This isn’t right. This isn’t fair. And someone, somewhere, needs to step up and take accountability,” Tracy Mirich said.