ShareThis Page

Brackenridge crash hits one family the hardest

| Monday, July 17, 2017, 5:12 p.m.
Leif Greiss | Tribune-Review
Cindy Homburg (left), Prospect Cemetery president, talks to siblings Deedee Walker and David Henschel about damaged tombstones while Janee Wislie examines the base of her parent’s tombstone, damaged in a car accident on Sunday.
Leif Greiss | Tribune-Review
Siblings Janee Wilslie and David Henschel stand over the grave markers of family members, four of which were damaged by a car crash on Sunday.
Leif Greiss | Tribune-Review
Deedee Walker, David Henschel, Janee Wislie and Sandra Henschel talk to Prospect Cemetery President Cindy Homburg (front left) about the damage done to their ancestors' grave markers.

It has been a cruel spring and summer for Prospect Cemetery in Brackenridge, which has seen property damage caused by a fallen tree, a wild Fourth of July party and now a car crash.

“What else can happen to this cemetery?” Prospect Cemetery President Cindy Homburg said.

The crash occurred Sunday, when a driver going west on Roup Avenue suffered a medical emergency, causing her vehicle to careen into the cemetery, displacing and damaging eight tombstones. Half of those tombstones belonged to the Henschel family.

“I was shocked, just shocked,” Janee Wislie, formerly Henschel, of Harrison said. “I could tell the car in the picture was lying on my parent's grave. It made me sick.”

Wislie said she was out at the cemetery at 11:30 p.m. that night with a flashlight to make sure it was her family's graves that were damaged. Then she called her siblings, Deedee Walker and David Henschel and his wife, Sandra, all of Winfield Township.

“I called them and said, ‘Yup, it's on mom and dad,' ” Wislie said.

The displaced tombstones included those of their parents, Vincent and Dorothy Henschel, their great-grandparents, Henry and Amalia Lucas, and their great-uncle, Herman Lucas.

The other four tombstones were displaced, and one nearest to the road was broken into pieces and scattered.

Homburg said she had no idea what the cost to fix and replace the tombstones would be or the cost to bring in a landscaper to repair the damage to the ground.

Homburg planned to have Freeport Monumental Works, which specializes in grave markers, inspect the damage Wednesday.

Homburg and the Henschel siblings said they hoped the driver and passenger were OK and hoped to seek restitution from the driver's insurance company, but were not yet sure if it would cover the damage.

The driver apparently suffered minor injuries, and the passenger was taken to Allegheny Valley Hospital.

Brackenridge police Chief Jaime Bock said, as far as he knows, the passenger still was in the hospital.

The crash was the third incident to cause damage to the cemetery since May.

A Fourth of July block party by neighbors of the cemetery allegedly resulted in fireworks being set off on the cemetery grounds, scorching grass; partygoers also knocked over a tombstone, Homburg said.

Bock said no charges were filed for the incident and that the neighbors had agreed to pay $75 in restitution for the damages.

In early May, a large sycamore tree fell on nine tombstones, damaging and displacing several. The tree has since been removed. The cemetery continues to be in need of donations, volunteers and board members to assist with maintenance and upkeep.

Leif Greiss is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4681, lgreiss@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Leif_Greiss.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.