Tamisha Covington was in tears Thursday after officials discovered up to 100 decomposing bodies stacked into a Uhaul truck outside of the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral home in the Brooklyn Borough of New York.
“They charged me $15,000 to lay my mother to rest, and what am I getting out of the $15,000?” she told the New York Post. “I’m getting her body being in a U-Haul truck for however long.”
Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said fines and possible suspensions are expected in the pending case against the funeral service.
“We’ll enforce this as much as possible,” he said.
The Department of Health, who as present as bodies were wheeled out in plastic sheets and others on stretchers from inside of the Flatlands funeral home, described the incident as “a first of its kind in terms of this pandemic.”
“We have issued guidance out to all funeral homes that we will not tolerate any of that kind of behavior,” Zucker said during Gov. Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefing in Albany.
Covington said she contacted the funeral home service after witnessing her 60-year-old mother’s death on April 9.
She said she watched as her mother, Deborah Harris, die in her arms. Harris had not tested for COVID-19 at the time but suffered a heart attack that Covington said may have been related to the virus.
“They said, within two weeks they would have my mother buried,” she said after she emerged from the storefront business at 2037A on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, New York Thursday. “This is too much on humanity. I’m really hurt. I don’t even know what I’m looking for other than the fact that I expect to lay my mother down properly with respect and at a reasonable time.”
The grisly situation was discovered after someone alerted the New York Police Department about a foul odor coming from the trucks on Wednesday. An employee from the Dollar General located next to the funeral home said the smell “was bad,” the New York Post reports.
The worker said at one point someone was spotted cleaning out the cargo box of one U-Haul truck just around the corner from where the funeral home is located.
The city’s Building Department records shows its landlord, VG Utica Realty LLC, was given a summons in June for illegally occupying the building as a funeral service. The company did not appear for the August hearing which resulted in a $500 fine. That fine, has yet to be paid, the newspaper reports.