Published July 06, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY – The parents of a Utah boy who was killed after a tombstone fell on him last year are suing the cemetery's association.
According to a lawsuit filed in Utah's Third District Court on Tuesday, 4-year-old Carson Dean Cheney was posing for photos with family at Glenwood Cemetery in Park City on July 5, 2012, when a 4-foot-tall tombstone fell on him.
The boy's father was taking photographs of another family and Carson was trying to make the children in front of the camera smile by hiding and popping out suddenly from behind the headstone. It fell on the boy "after he applied only a light touch to it," the lawsuit states.
Family members rushed to assist the boy, who sustained severe injuries, including to the head, and was pronounced dead a short time later.
The boy's parents are seeking more than $300,000 from the Glenwood Cemetery Association and claim the organization knew the headstone was a danger to visitors and was "reckless and in disregard of the safety of Carson and the public."
Glenwood Cemetery Association President Bruce Erickson did not immediately return messages left Friday morning.
Erickson said last year that families are responsible for maintaining headstones at the private, 5-acre cemetery near Park City Mountain Resort.
The lawsuit alleges that years before the boy was killed, the cemetery association negligently attempted to fix the headstone, which belonged to Michael Horan, who died in 1889. Instead of replacing "rusted out" steel dowels with new ones, the organization repaired the headstone with construction adhesive between the 200 plus-pound headstone and its base.
That adhesive bond failed over the years, which left the headstone susceptible to toppling over, the family claims.
The burial ground was established by a society of silver miners in 1885 and many of the grave markers are more than 100 years old.
The cemetery still accepts burials from people connected to the mining society and is open to the public.
It was closed for six weeks after the boy's death, and when it reopened, the association posted signs inside asking people not to touch the headstones and to stay on footpaths.