Society

Pennsylvania Man Killed By Falling Headstone While Decorating A Gravesite For Easter

| by Lisa Fogarty

A Pennsylvania man was reportedly killed by a headstone that fell on him while he was decorating a gravesite for Easter at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Throop.

Stephen Woytack, 74, and his wife have a yearly tradition of decorating the family grave for the holiday, according to police. The Scranton couple always tie a cross to the grave and then say a few prayers while standing over it, cemetery caretaker Ed Kubilus told WNEP.

But this year's pilgrimage to the cemetery ended in tragedy when Woytack was struck by a headstone while kneeling beside his mother-in-law's grave tying the cross on with string.

"Usually I come down and talk to them right away but I went up the other end to start picking up the Christmas ornaments and she came running up, 'Help me, the stone fell on Stephen!'" Kubilus said.

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Police are investigating the incident but all signs reportedly point to it being a horrible accident. Kubilus says it isn't uncommon for some of the bases of the headstones to tilt each spring, when the soil thaws, which can result in some stones slipping off the top. 

"I've come over and saw six stones fall from the winter," he said. "Winter, and the ground gets soft and the stones fall over and you have somebody come and pick them up." 

Bishop Joseph Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton released the following statement: 

"It is unimaginable to think that a visit of a faithful couple to the grave of loved ones in anticipation of the celebration of Easter could have ended in such a tragic manner. Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and his family." 

Woytack will be buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery, where he has a plot in front of the headstone that killed him. 

Source: WNEP/Photo Credit: Denise Krebs/Flickr, mcall.com