Dozens of people gathered at Back to Basics Outreach Ministry in Buffalo today to discuss what legal options – if any – they have against St. Matthew’s Cemetery in West Seneca.
Hundreds of families are still learning that their loved ones bodies were relocated within the cemetery, after officials say it became necessary to do so when the ground in that area gave way earlier in the month.
In a statement from a St. Matthew’s Cemetery official, he said “Professional engineers and geologists reinspected the Garden of Good Shepherd [Wednesday] and reaffirmed the conclusion they reached on Easter Sunday that they Garden of Good Shepherd remains unstable today, and the only way to completely assure the safety of the burials remaining in this section is to disinter and reinter them elsewhere in the cemetery as quickly as possible.”
The move is expected to cost the cemetery $600,000 – and officials told News 4 earlier this week they’re continuing to contact next-of-kin.
But the families affected tell News 4 they should have been notified right away, not after the move already happened.
“Just to have the right taken away from me to visit my father or my brother, not even having that option – just to stand behind a gate that says danger of some sort and looking over there and seeing that it’s nothing but sloped ground and holes, and what appears to be nothing at all but construction,” said Wayne Jones, who has two family members that were relocated.
Jacob Piorkowski is an attorney from The Tarantino Law Firm. He said he told those in attendance at today’s meeting the best thing they can do at this time is to file a complaint with the New York State Division of Cemeteries.
“We understand that the state is already investigating what’s occurred, and so I’m encouraging anyone who feels aggrieved that they file the form, get it to Albany and let them work their process at this point,” Piorkowski said.
Cemetery officials told News 4 they planned to finish moving all gravesites by Thursday. Family members decided today they would meet again, in hopes of getting justice for their loved ones.