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Midvale cemetery leaves man unburied for days in sweltering temperatures

Posted at 5:59 AM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 08:57:48-04

MIDVALE, Utah — Midvale officials admit they made a mistake after a man's grave was not filled-in for nearly three days over a hot Utah weekend.

The man's family was left frustrated after seeing their father poorly treated after years of service to the community and family.

Lawrence Raymond Escarciga, also known as Larry Cruz was many things. His family said he was known for his incredible sense of humor and love of his children and grandchildren.

"He was a military war veteran. He served in Korea, in Vietnam. He was a volunteer Midvale City fireman," remembered Cruz's son-in-law, Dan Keller.

Cruz was also a great boxer and worked security for the Utah Jazz, and was supposedly a favorite of the one and only Michael Jordan when he was in town

"He loved this country," said Keller. "He honored this country. He flew the American flag 365 days a year."

So when Cruz died last week, it was not only a loss to his family, but also to his community. He was set to be buried at the Midvale City Cemetery when the hurt really began.

Keller said after a service at the cemetery, he and his wife, along with a few family members, returned to see the gravesite.

"We noticed about three hours after the service that he had still not been taken care of," said Keller.

Even hours later, at around 9 p.m. that evening, Cruz's burial site was still uncovered.

"I went to walk over what they had laid over on dad's grave. And my husband said don't walk on that, they haven't covered his grave," said Jodie Keller, Cruz's daughter.

Despite calling through the weekend in which temperatures reached 100 degrees, Cruz's grave was still not filled in.

"I came back to the same thing with an orange cone placed on top of my father's grave," said Jodie. "And that's how I'm going to remember my dad being buried, or not buried, to tell you the truth."

For the Keller's, the whole experience has been terrible.

"This is the most disturbing thing. They have taken something that was precious to me, that we worked really hard on and you might doubt is final tribute. And this is what I'm going to remember, and no one should have to do that," Jodie explained.

Midvale officials shared remorse over what had occurred.

"I cannot express enough how badly we feel for the family," said Midvale City Manager Matt Dahl. "This was a mistake that has never happened before, should have never happened this past weekend. And we are taking steps to make sure that it never happens again."

The city says staffing issues led to employees who don’t normally handle funerals having to work last Friday; not knowing how to handle an irrigation line and tree roots running near the burial site.

But the city says no matter what happened, they are promising changes.

"Midvale made serious and unacceptable mistakes over the course of this past weekend," said Dahl. "Even if there are irrigation issues or whatever, that we always fill in a grave site following a funeral."

It's a scar that the Keller's won't soon forget.