ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — City officials tell WHNT News 19 a leaky mausoleum chamber at Memory Hill Cemetery is cleaned up and should not happen again.
Albertville mayor Tracy Honea said crews acted quickly to fix one of the units in the mausoleum after workers noticed an offensive odor coming from one of the marble walls and discovered a leak inside one of the chambers.
The cemetery superintendent said the vault was properly sealed, but it appears the coffin inside was not. He said since the interment in 2010, there was decomposition in the crypt.
Shirley Armstrong’s sister, Mary Joyce Bearden, is buried near the mausoleum, and she said when she heard about the issue, her heart broke for the deceased man’s loved ones.
“It did, because it smelled so bad for a couple of days,” Armstrong said.
“But they got in there and took care of it. There was a lot of people out here working and they had it all propped open for Decoration Day so it smelled good.”
Armstrong comes to the grave site every week along with Henry Bearden, the widower of her deceased sister. He mows the grass, sprays for weeds, and tidies mulch around his wife’s grave while Armstrong wipes away bird droppings and picks up any debris.
“It’s just being a good citizen I guess,” Bearden said.
“I like to do what I do. A lot goes into it. You’ve got to keep the mulch in it, the grass out of it, and keep the grave mowed regular to make it look right,” he said.
Although the city mows the cemetery lawns, Bearden wants to provide that extra attention effort to make immaculate the burial plot for his wife and himself.
He and Armstrong acknowledged they would not have been able to fix the leaking vault.
“[The family] can’t really do anything about it too much, the main [cemetery] people has to take care of it, and they did,” Armstrong said. “But it was probably real sad for them.”
Bearden agreed. “I felt bad for them. It’s something that shouldn’t have never happened.”
Mayor Honea said the city is reviewing what went wrong, and taking steps to make sure nothing like what happened at the mausoleum can ever happen again.