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Widow fights to replace damaged headstone

Nina Pineda has the story on how it was damaged in the first place
Seven On Your Side
January 20, 2014 2:46:29 PM PST
A woman waged a long fight to get her late husband's damaged headstone repaired. The company that damaged it put up a fight, until 7 On Your Side got involved.

It was a bizarre accident: a truck goes off the road into a cemetery. And what's left is a damaged headstone and widowed senior citizen who said she got run over by one of the nation's largest shipping companies.

"He would be fighting to get it fixed," said widow Marie Height.

Marie knows what her husband, a 32 year veteran of the Hudson County sheriff's office, would say about his headstone getting run over and the trucking company refusing to replace it.

"He'd say don't let them get away with it," she says.

So she continues to fight, more than a year after a truck driver lost control of his truck, crashing right into the Weehawken cemetery.

"He landed right on my husband's stone, it's underneath the truck here," said Marie.

"It was bad, knocked over a lot of headstones, but hers had the most damage," said Weehawken cementary manager Franklin Mejia.

"See here all the scratches right through the stones, here, here," said Height.

The edges also got gouged in the accident, but the Michigan-based trucking company's insurance only offered to pay a fraction of the cost of the stone.

"They only wanna give me 500 dollars, I don't know, it's not that they can't pay for it, you know?", said Marie.

The cemetery manager told us Central Transport paid to have their fence the truck took out fixed, no problem.

But Marie won't accept the $500.

"I wanted the full amount. It s not a case of like the stone ran into the truck, the truck came right in the cemetery and damaged the stone!", she said.

"This is a disgrace, you can't fix, it's a mess," said John Burns of Burns and McCabe Inc., who has been making monuments for three decades. His assessment?

"You can't buff it out, it doesnt come out right. If you buff you have to replace the whole stone and re-engrave everything. By the time you calculate all of that you're better off replacing the stone," Burns said.

So we told that to Central Transport and sent close up photos of what their truck had done.

The company changed its mind, offering to buy Marie a brand new replacement headstone.

In just 2 days, a check: nearly $1900. For Marie, meaning they'll start working on a new one right away.

"I'm happy. It took over a year and it wouldn't happen without 7 On Your Side I would have never got the money," she said.

Central Transport's rep apologized to Marie, saying there were huge gaps in communication on the company's part. And they thanked us for bringing it to their attention. They will put a rush on it and have the headstone ready by the end of the week.


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