Family members gain limited access to Carson cemetery but still looking for answers

Rob McMillan Image
Friday, August 4, 2023
Family members still looking for answers in Carson cemetery shutdown
Families who were locked out of Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery in Carson for weeks are finally again able to visit their loved ones' graves but problems remain.

CARSON, Calif. (KABC) -- Families who were left locked out of Lincoln Memorial Park in Carson for weeks are finally once again able to visit the final resting place of their loved ones, after volunteers were given keys to unlock the gates leading into the cemetery.

But the lack of maintenance and proper irrigation since the cemetery suddenly closed last month has left the facility in horrible condition.

"It looks demolished," said Teneya Berryhill, who drove all the way from Victorville to visit loved ones buried at the cemetery. "This is not beautiful. I've seen empty lots down the street better than this."

Berryhill wasn't the only person disappointed with the condition of the property.

"It's so dirty; there are weeds and dried-up grass," said Barabara Jean Sanders, who was visiting the cemetery to celebrate the birthday of her sister who was buried there.

But she's pleased that they can at least once again have access to the property. Her backup plan was to toss a bouquet of flowers over the fence.

Lincoln Memorial Park in Carson closes suddenly, leaving families in dark

A cemetery in Carson has closed with no apparent warning.

"We are so glad to be able to go in there. This was devastating to know this place was locked down."

It's still unclear why the cemetery suddenly closed. The city of Carson has left a sign on the property saying that the owner was unreachable, and that anyone wishing to file a complaint should reach out to the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau.

But some good news came late last week, when community members said they were given access to the property by officials with Assemblyman Mike Gipson's office, who asked local police to replace the padlock on the gate. Volunteers met at the cemetery on Sunday afternoon to discuss their options going forward.

"We have keys now," said Felicia Jones, who buried her son at the cemetery four months ago. "But we want to know what the future holds for this place, because we can't come here every day and open gates."

Assemblyman Gipson tells Eyewitness News that the owner of the property had a stroke a few years ago, and he's heard that his health has taken a turn for the worse. But he hasn't been able to reach the owner or his family.

Gipson confirmed that his office contacted local police, told them to cut the lock and replace it, and they've given keys to volunteers.

Gipson is trying to organize a town hall meeting in the near future to address community concerns. He is also searching for a source of state funding to help pay for maintenance at the blighted property but acknowledges that will take some time.

Volunteers are planning a day of service at the cemetery on Saturday, Aug. 12 starting at 8 a.m. But they acknowledge there's only so much they can do without water service to the property.

"The upkeeping of this place is ridiculous; the grass is cracking like potato chips," said Jones.

"We need answers. We want answers."