A GRIEVING widow says she’s still haunted by the day her husband’s body was exposed to hundreds of mourners after pallbearers dropped his coffin.
Debbie Swales says her life has been a “living hell” after her late husband Gavin’s casket smashed open as it was being lowered into his grave.
Debbie Swales says she’s still haunted by the day her husband’s body was exposed after pallbearers dropped his coffin[/caption]
The pallbearers responsible then fled the scene leaving the couple’s distraught children to jump into the plot to recover their dad’s body.
Recalling the harrowing moment at Newcastle’s West Road Cemetery, Debbie, 52, told ChronicleLive: “I just burst into tears. The lid smashed open and the kids jumped in [to his grave]. When lifting the coffin out it just fell to bits.
“We paid extra for a solid oak coffin with strong gold handles. We found out after that it was a replica MDF coffin that just shattered when it was dropped.
“Imagine that happening to your loved one. It is not private, 400 to 500 people were able to see him laid there.”
Heartbroken Debbie said she was forced to hold a second funeral for Gavin, 55
But she says funeral director Clark Pearson refused to accept the blame following the family’s horrific ordeal in November 2015.
She said: “It is not just the fact they dropped him. Of course it was an accident. But who would run away? You would front up to what happened and not leave the family to jump into the grave.
“We have been treated dreadfully ever since. I recall standing there and I cried and cried.”
I can’t get on with living my life because I’ve been grieving for so long
Gavin’s ordeal started in 2013 when he was told he had a 9.5cm tumour in his right kidney.
It was while undergoing pre-assessment tests that doctors discovered he was also battling leukemia.
Brother Frankie stepped in to donate his bone marrow and Gavin’s health started to improve. But the dad’s progress was halted when he got pneumonia.
Just months after undergoing a second transplant, Gavin died.
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Debbie arranged a second funeral two days later with a different funeral director, but she said the damage had already been done.
The mum-of-eight added: “When I saw Gavin he just didn’t look the same. He had a cut across his face as a result of the coffin breaking. It has haunted me ever since.
“I can’t get on with living my life because I’ve been grieving for so long. I’ve had no closure to this and it’s just been terrible for us all.”
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