A 4-year-old boy is dead after a large tombstone toppled onto him while his family and some friends gathered to take pictures at a historic cemetery in a Utah ski resort town.
Carson Dean Cheney was at the Glenwood Cemetery in Park City on Thursday evening when the 6-foot-tall headstone detached from its base and fell on him, Park City police Capt. Phil Kirk said Friday. The headstone was about 4 inches thick and weighed hundreds of pounds.
"There's still so much disbelief and sorrow and anguish," the boy's grandmother Geri Gibbs told The Associated Press. "We just keep waiting for the door to open up and Carson to come through, a happy little boy."
She said Carson was just about to enter kindergarten, loved to ride his bike and was "full of life."
Investigators were still probing the incident Friday.
Gibbs said the boy and his family were visiting from Lehi, about an hour away, and were at the old cemetery while his father took photos of friends and relatives.
The boy was holding onto the headstone when some metal connecting it to the pedestal broke, Gibbs said.
She said it took three men to pull the slab off the boy, and rescuers "did everything they could possibly do."
The child suffered injuries to his head, chest and abdomen and was taken to the nearby Park City Medical Center, where he died a short time later.
Curtis Morley is a family friend and works with the boy's father, Zac Cheney, at a professional services firm in Salt Lake City. He said Zac Cheney does photography in his spare time and was shooting portraits at the cemetery because of its extensive landscaping.
Morley said some of the children being photographed were not being responsive, so Carson tried to help his dad by pretending to be leprechaun and making them laugh. Morley said the boy went behind a tombstone and was playfully poking his head out from behind it when it fell on him.
"Carson passed away while trying to make others smile," Morley said.
Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter said the heavy, coarse stone marked the grave of someone who died in the 1800s.
Bruce Erickson, president of the Glenwood Cemetery Association, said the private, five-acre cemetery around the corner from Park City Mountain Resort was founded by a society of silver miners in 1885, and many of the tombstones are at least 100 years old. The cemetery is open to the public and still accepts burials of people connected to the mining society.
Erickson said no funerals were held there Thursday.
New burials happen maybe just once a year, he said, and families are responsible for maintaining the headstones. Erickson said the cemetery likely will be closed through the weekend.
A funeral for the boy is set for Tuesday. Morley said a memorial fund has been set up at Zions Bank.
Associated Press writer Lynn DeBruin in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.
- Family & Relationships
- Death & Funeral
- Park City