Recently Pearson Funeral Home was accused of having caskets partially dug up and emerged in water for two months. This led family and friends of the deceased to contact a television station to report on the story.
Leroy Hicks, lost his 51 year old father Leroy Parker in a boating accident in Newport News almost a year ago. The family never imagined after saying goodbye to their loved one in such a tragic way, that putting their loved one to rest would be so difficult.
“To see the casket covered in water, it’s just heartbreaking,” Hicks reported to Channel 8 News.”
According to Hicks, the family has been in contact with Pearson Funeral Home but nothing was ever done.
“You go to the funeral home, they put it onto the cemetery,” Hicks said. “You go meet with those people, It’s just back and forth, and it’s been back and forth this whole while. There are two other family members’ caskets that surround Parker’s grave and are in the same condition. You have my aunt, and my first cousin, which is his niece, all three of them side by side uncovered, it’s a disgrace.”
Owner and manager of Pearson Funeral Home Richard E. Pearson and son Ronnell E. Pearson said the events described are not accurate. Ronnell explained the difference between a casket versus a vault.
“There were some discrepancies and missing facts in the story that Channel 8 News provided,” Ronnell said. “First off, our caskets are placed inside of a vault.”
A casket is placed inside the vault and sealed. The key purpose of both a vault and liner is to protect the casket from the weight of the earth and any heavy maintenance equipment that may need to pass over the grave. It also helps resist water and helps retain the look of the cemetery or memorial park by preventing the ground from settling.
“We don’t own the cemetery, or the vault company,” said Richard. “We were just trying to help. We take pride in letting our clients know that our duty doesn’t just stop at the funeral service. If you need our assistance we will do our due diligence to help.”
According to Richard, the family was satisfied with the funeral service that was provided. However, according to Pearson, Carnell Hines, who is the funeral home’s contact person at the cemetery, reported that the Hicks family vaults were placed in the wrong plot. The plots where the vaults were placed belonged to another family and needed to be moved.
Richard thought he and his son Ronnell along with staff could help Hines and the Hicks family coordinate to have the vaults moved. The process needed to be properly coordinated and Pearson Funeral Home found themselves as the liaison between the vault company, cemetery and the Hicks family. The cemetery is Zion Community Cemetery on Low Ground Rd.
“It’s called Low Ground Rd. for a reason,” Ronnell stated. “Most community members know the water issues on Low Ground Rd. We did our best trying to help coordinate everyone’s schedule. Once we had everything lined up and ready with the vault company and the cemetery the weather was bad.”
Ronnell went on to say that both him and his father understood and empathized with the Hicks family. The three caskets have been moved to their permanent place. Ronnell said he did attempt to reach out to Leroy Hicks by phone to once again extend his condolences and has yet to hear back.
He said R. E. Pearson Funeral home has been servicing the community for more than 38 years and pride themselves on the service they provide while creating a healing experience in the community.
He said the funeral home will continue to set a standard of excellence that honors the precious memories of those dear to their hearts.