The Belize City Council will have to find thousands of dollars to correct an error that has occurred at the Lord Ridge Cemetery as it tries to deal with another sensitive issue. The question for them is how did a person end up being buried in the wrong grave? The unpleasant discovery was made over the weekend when Hector Cunningham went to repaint his mom’s grave for Mother’s Day and discovered that someone had recently been buried there.

Hector Cunningham - mother buried in wrong grave spot
“I usually go to my mother’s grave to fix it and it was Mother’s Day so I went there and I saw a different grave, the grave was broken down, the one I used to fix up. I went to the City Council and they told me they would have to see what happened."

Marion Ali - Reporter
You buried your mother there when?

Hector Cunningham - mother buried in wrong grave spot
“2000.”

Marion Ali - Reporter
And every year you’ve been going there?

Hector Cunningham - mother buried in wrong grave spot
“Every year I go, fix up the grave, putting flowers and stuff.”

The snafu occurred from the year 2000, that is eleven years ago. And every year for those eleven years Cunningham has been going to the graveyard to repaint his mother’s grave without knowing that she was buried in the wrong spot. City Administrator, Candice Burke, explained to Love News how the mix up occurred.

Candice Burke - City Administrator
“We had a funeral that was a reopening about a month ago of a grave and when they cemetery keeper went out there he called in to say that the plate, the number grave that they gave him to re-open, he said that is not the name he saw on it and so they verified from here that name was to be on the grave beside it so he replaced the plaque but apparently 11 years ago, Miss Lillian Lewis who is Mr. Cunningham’s mother was placed in the wrong grave. His family plot is number 43 and his mother is in number 44.”

But how could a mistake so grave have occurred and gone undetermined for so many years? City Councillor responsible for cemeteries, Wayne Usher, explains that the Council’s employee at the time was the one to blame, but now the Council is introducing new measures to prevent a recurrence.

Candice Burke - City Administrator
“We have not been able to contact the family of the woman that was recently buried. We are trying to get in touch with them through the undertaker and we are hoping to meet with all the parties and resolve the issue.”

Wayne Usher – Councillor responsible for Cemeteries
“We will be computerizing the system that exists. Right now we still have it handwritten in volume and ledgers but we will be computerizing the grave spaces and they system especially at the new Eternal Garden Memorial Cemetery."

Marion Ali - Reporter
From what I gathered it is not a matter of the mistake being in how it is recorded whether hand written or computer system, it’s in that the employee who supervises the burial did not pick up that this is the wrong spot, it is more of an onsite mistake.

Wayne Usher – Councillor responsible for Cemeteries
“Yes and no because that is a human error that was made at the time but with computerizing the chances of that happening again will probably just disappear. We will have to get the Public Health Bureau involved when we are exhuming a body we have to do it with the Ministry of health’s involvement, the Public Health Department. We have to do all of that. We have to take down one grave exhume the body put it in another and then we have to build over.”

While the Council tries to correct the error, it doesn’t take away the emotional and mental anguish for a son whose mother’s grave has been desecrated, even if unintentionally.

Hector Cunningham - mother buried in wrong grave spot
“I hope that the Council try to do something fast and quick so I go back to my mother’s grave.”

Wayne Usher – Councillor responsible for Cemeteries
“We are very sad that this has occurred. We empathize with Mr. Cunningham and his family.”

Councillor Usher could not give us an estimate of the cost to fix the error since it will entail the involvement of various departments and an exhumation.

LOVEFM