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Falling headstone kills child in cemetery

Posted at 8:16 AM, Jul 07, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-07 08:16:50-04

By Shara Park

Park City, UT (KSL) — A 4-year-old Lehi boy died Thursday after a 100-year-old headstone fell on top of him.

The boy was with his family at the historic Glenwood Cemetery, 402 Silver King Drive, when the accident occurred about 6 p.m. Carson Dean Cheney was taken to Park City Medical Center, where he died from his injuries, police said.

The private, nonprofit cemetery was established in the late 1800s and marks the burial locations for many of Park City’s founders.

“(It’s) very unfortunate, certainly something we’ve never seen before nor have I heard of and I just feel very bad for everyone involved in this,” said Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter. “Everyone has been devastated by this.”

Police say Carson and his family were taking pictures in the cemetery when the 6-foot headstone came crashing down on his chest and head.

“It sounded like his hands were on the top of it and as it came back, it landed on him,” Carpenter said.

Family members removed the headstone and called 911. Nearby residents watched the commotion.

“The cops were first to arrive … and they just hauled — one or both of them jumped the fence and ran (to help),” said Justin Russell, who lives next to the cemetery. “It’s horrible. It’s extremely sad for the family.”

Carpenter said the boy was initially responsive. Officers worked on him until paramedics arrived and transported Carson to the hospital, where he later died.

The boy’s grandmother, Geri Gibbs, released a statement on the family’s behalf.

“This tragic accident has taken the life of our energetic, sweet, beloved little boy, Carson Dean Cheney. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers, but wish for privacy at this difficult time.”

The cemetery was closed Friday out of respect for the boy’s family and the family that placed the toppled tombstone.

Bruce Erickson, president of the Glenwood Cemetery Association, expressed sympathy to the family. “Those of us that take care of the cemetery are with people that have loss all the time and we understand as best we can what they’re going through,” he said.

When asked if Thursday’s accident will prompt the cemetery to check other headstones, he said it’s up to the families of the deceased to do that. Many of the headstones are more than 100 years old.