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$150,000 sought from Windsor cemetery for burial mixup

  • 2/1/2011: A1:

    PC: Martina Alvarez and her son Bulmaro Ramirez cry after finding Shiloh Cemetery officials moving the body of Martina's son Enrique Ramirez Alvarez, who was killed when he fell from a pickup on Hwy 101 in Santa Rosa on Dec. 22, 2010. The cemetery sold the family the plot, but now claim the plot was already sold for the living wife of a man buried next to the onecontaining Alvarez.

The family of a Windsor man buried in the wrong grave has filed three claims totaling $150,000 against the Shiloh cemetery district.

Enrique Ramirez Alvarez, 21, died Dec. 22 after falling from the back of a pickup on Highway 101. He was laid to rest a week later in a plot at the Windsor cemetery that was blessed by a priest in accordance with the family's religious practices, said the claims filed by attorney Andy Martinez.

But sometime in early January the family was informed by cemetery manager Debbie Wallace that Alvarez was mistakenly buried in a grave that belonged to another family and would be moved, according to the claims for damages.

Casket Moved In Shiloh Cemetery

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The family objected to the relocation and sought legal advice. During a Jan. 31 visit to the cemetery, mother Martina Alvarez, another son and her brother discovered cemetery workers in the midst of digging up the grave with a backhoe.

Upon seeing the exposed coffin of her dead son, Alvarez screamed, cried, fell to the ground and fainted, according to the claims.

The workers stopped and Wallace called the police, who took no action, the claims said.

"Ms. Alvarez suffers from the lasting effects of the emotionally disturbing event she witnessed," Martinez wrote in the claims. "Ms. Alvarez feels humiliated, she frequently cries, feels overwhelming sadness, she has trouble sleeping and she experiences pain in her chest."

The claims were filed Monday at the office of the county Board of Supervisors. They assert a $100,000 loss for the mother and $25,000 losses each for a brother, Bulmaro Alvarez, and an uncle, Alejandro Alvarez.

Martinez said if the claims are rejected he will sue the cemetery in civil court.

The cemetery's lawyer, Bill Arnone, said there was no question an error was made in Alvarez's burial. However, he said the law allows cemeteries to relocate remains without permission of relatives.


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