A coffin popped open as workers at a Brooklyn, NY cemetery tried to force it into a grave that was dug too small.
The coffin carrying the remains of 79-year-old Claribel Oppenheimer got stuck in the grave and popped open as workers struggled to shake it free during the somber burial. When family and friends looked inside the damaged coffin, Oppenheimer’s hands were no longer folded as they had been in the funeral home because of “rough handling." The sound of the coffin scraping the sides of the hole “filled the air,” and workers “pushed, lifted and lowered the coffin over and over to try to get into the ground.” When the coffin got stuck, workers tried pulling it — growing more aggressive and arguing among themselves as the process dragged on. They kept “pulling and tugging” even after the top opened and mourners feared Oppenheimer’s body would fall out.
Some members of the family watched, crying. Workers moved the coffin to the grass for an hour while a backhoe was brought on to lengthen the grave. After some arguing over the condition of the coffin, the body was transferred to a new coffin at a nearby funeral home and finally lowered to its final resting place — headfirst rather than horizontally. One worker allegedly told the family “this section of the cemetery has had this problem before with coffins not fitting properly into the graves.”