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Cleveland family finds grave-site flooded, tries to pump water out

Now they want an apology
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Posted at 10:58 AM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 14:03:58-05

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland family is disgusted after enduring a horrific ordeal that played out at a city cemetery. The family arrived at the West Park Cemetery to bury a loved one, only to discover several feet of water sitting in the grave-site. Family members say they want an apology.

“It’s been very difficult. It’s been very devastating to all my family,” said Mo Dayem, who was at the cemetery for his uncle’s burial.

On Tuesday, about 100 family and friends gathered at West Park Cemetery on Ridge Road. It is one of 12 run by the City of Cleveland. The grave dug for Dayem’s uncle, 74-year-old Jim Dayem, was filled with several feet of water.

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Pictured above is the flooded gravesite and a photo of the late Jim Dayem.

When they saw the water, family members searched for cemetery workers, who agreed to pump out the water. Dayem said the pump on hand did not have gas, and a relative had to run out and get gas for it. When it was fueled, it didn't function properly, leaving family members to tinker with it.

“At one point, the pump malfunctioned pretty badly to where a lot of my family was sprayed with water from the grave,” he said.

After the two-hour ordeal ended, many family members were muddy and soaked, and the family was forced to move on with the burial despite water still being inside the grave.

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West Park Cemetery.

Other grave-sites nearby were also a mess.

“They drove tractors, heavy equipment, over these grave-sites, over their headstones. Some of them are sunken in several inches; others are cracked. The ground is completely covered with water and mud,” Dayem said.

The family left feeling disrespected and hurt.

“There was no apology. There was no other explanation given," Dayem said. "I call on Mayor Frank Jackson to address the issue himself, to give us some answers as to why this happened.”

The City of Cleveland responded with the following statement:

The City of Cleveland extends its condolences to the family during this difficult time. Solemn occasions should run as smoothly as possible.

Recently, the melting snow caused wet ground conditions throughout the entire region. Removing water from a gravesite under these circumstances can be a lengthy process, as water seeps in from all directions. However, our expectation is that staff take the utmost care in their work to provide quality burial services and cemetery maintenance. We are looking into this matter and based on that outcome, we will communicate with the family to find an appropriate resolution on this important issue.