Family outraged over burial mishap at Midvale City Cemetery

Jun 15, 2022, 7:54 AM | Updated: 7:57 am

MIDVALE, Utah — A family expressed outrage Tuesday over city workers taking multiple days to complete the burial of their loved one.

Jodie Keller said the funeral for her father, 78-year-old Lawrence Raymond Escarciga, took place Friday, but the burial site wasn’t properly covered over and finished until Monday.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful, and heartbreaking,” an emotional Keller told KSL TV. “This was the final thing that needed to take place and Midvale City failed us.”

Keller said she first became aware of a problem when she returned to the Midvale City Cemetery at 9:30 p.m. Friday with her husband and the gravesite only had temporary coverings over it.

“To add insult to injury, they had placed a road cone on top of his grave,” Keller said.

Keller noted that the site of another funeral Friday had been covered over that same day.

She said her father’s, however, continued to be incomplete Saturday and Sunday until she and her husband attempted multiple times to reach the mayor and finally got a response.

On Monday morning, crews filled in the gravesite — a process the family said took only 31 minutes and should have been done far, far sooner.

“They waited until Monday,” an incensed Keller said. “My dad’s grandkids were so distraught, they wanted to purchase dirt and bury their grandpa.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Midvale City Manager Matt Dahl took ownership of the ordeal.

“This will never happen again,” he pledged, noting the city had already taken steps to prevent a similar issue in the future.

He chalked up what happened to a combination of low staffing among regulars at the cemetery and confusion over how to resolve challenges involving tree roots and irrigation lines.

“I cannot express how sorry we are about the fact that we did not allow them — the family — to have their closure that they deserved over this past weekend because of the mistakes that we made,” Dahl said.

Keller said she will always remember her father as an “extraordinary dad” and a “good, good man.” After what she described as a “beautiful” funeral service, Keller lamented that the veteran and former Midvale volunteer firefighter wasn’t attended to properly by the city he served.

“To have this be the final result — unimaginable,” she said. “I hope no one ever has to go through what we did — ever.”

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Family outraged over burial mishap at Midvale City Cemetery