Imagine you’re driving to a cemetery to help bury a friend or loved one. The day probably already is quite possibly one of the worst of your life. A traffic accident becoming part of the funeral procession is undoubtedly not something you’d want to happen.
But that’s exactly what did happen to a funeral procession headed to a cemetery in Wheelersburg Tuesday.
Matt Hammer, owner of the Melcher Funeral Home in Portsmouth, said he did not witness the incident himself, and did not even realize there had been an accident until the procession of which he was a part reached the cemetery. He said it was at that point he noticed half the cars from the procession were missing.
In a Facebook post, Portsmouth resident Mike Parlin said he was part of the procession that was honoring a good friend of his. The Facebook posting did not go into many details, but stated “some idiot rammed one of the vehicles behind us.” Parlin described the accident as nearly a head-on collision, but was thankful no one was seriously hurt.
Hammer said the accident happened about 2:45 p.m. on state Route 522 near a local grocery store. He added that the incident occurred about 200 yards from the cemetery. Hammer said the car which was struck was about the seventh in line in the procession. He said all the cars were marked with funeral flags. In his Facebook post, Parlin said the struck vehicle was carrying persons who were acting as pallbearers for the funeral.
Hammer did not know if anyone was cited because of the accident. Calls to local law enforcement trying to gain further details were unsuccessful.
“Thank God they were okay,” Parlin wrote. “It could have been worse.”
Hammer said he has been in the funeral business for 15 years, and noted this is the second accident to strike a procession in the past eight years of which he is aware. He added that funeral processions generally no longer receive police escorts, mostly because of the budget concerns of local safety forces. Hammer said he routinely routes processions away from main streets in the interest of safety.