Brackenridge crash hits one family the hardest
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, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Leif_Greiss.