Coronavirus: Family of WWII vet and Dodgers fan battles with Whittier cemetery to lift restrictions for final goodbye

COVID-19 claimed the life of Henry Romo, but his family was determined they would not be robbed of their chance to say goodbye.
WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) -- COVID-19 claimed the life of Henry Romo, but his family was determined they would not be robbed of their chance to say goodbye.

Romo's daughter, Rachel Alarcon, was haunted by memories of the last moment she saw her 92-year-old father alive.

"I saw him go in the ambulance. I couldn't be with him at the hospital. We couldn't be with him when he passed away," Alarcon said.

She added that the family's grief was aggravated as they learned of burial restrictions at Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuaries.

"I wouldn't even mind driving there and staying in the car to watch something of him being buried," Alarcon said.

The memorial park in Whittier disputes the family's understanding of the limitations.

Romo, a WWII veteran and a devout Dodgers fan, made known his wishes to be buried next to his late wife. He often visited the gravestone where their names were carved out.

Upon his death, his family was shocked by the extent of restrictions. Rose Hills offered them four of the burial which they were not allowed to view.

Another point made by the family, which is disputed by Rose Hills, claims that Rose Hills would not notify her about the time of burial until days after it happened.

"I asked them, can you please just let us know the date of burial so we can all pray or just be knowing that he is going into the ground?" Alarcon said.

Responding to an inquiry by Eyewitness News, Rose Hills said they had temporarily closed memorial park in response to state and county health mandates. But in the end, they could offer a measure of flexibility.

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Memorial park issued a statement that said in part, "Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary's top priority is serving families with care and compassion...we are continuing to assist families with small graveside services."

"I'm glad I contacted ABC Channel 7, because I couldn't have done it without you," Alarcon said.

Alarcon will be allowed to gather at her father's grave with nine other family members. They will all be wearing masks, she said.

"I do understand it's COVID-19 and what's going on, but the families need that comfort to know to see their loved one, one last time," Alarcon said.
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