New York Funeral Home Fills U-Haul Trucks With Dozens of Bodies as Morgues Run out of Space

A Brooklyn, New York, funeral home is under investigation after residents began smelling decomposing corpses. It was later discovered that the funeral home was keeping dozens of bodies in metal U-Haul trucks parked on the street. Police also found two refrigerated trucks with more bodies inside. New York City has seen more than 17,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus, leading to overwhelmed funeral homes.

Residents near the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services on Utica Avenue called police after seeing funeral home employees putting filled body bags in the U-Haul trucks. Officers arrived at 11:20 a.m. Wednesday to find dozens of bodies stacked in the two trucks, police sources told the Washington Post. They discovered two other trucks with bodies inside.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams blamed the situation on the insufficient resources funeral homes and morgues have during the coronavirus crisis. "This is exactly what I spoke about over the weekend regarding the urgent need for reform in the handling of bodies and burial processes. We demand decent treatment of our deceased," Adams tweeted Wednesday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the incident "completely unacceptable," reports WABC. More than 100 bodies were found in the unrefrigerated U-Haul trucks, and another 50 in the refrigerated ones. The city sent the proper storage equipment for the bodies. The funeral home's owner claimed its freezer stopped working.

"I have no idea how any funeral home could let this happen," de Blasio said. "Why on earth did they not alert the state...go to their NYPD precinct and ask for help. Do something rather than leave the bodies there."

De Blasio said he supports Adams' idea to create a citywide bereavement committee to discuss the issues overwhelmed morgues face. "The city does not have a direct relationship with funeral homes," the mayor explained. "It's not an area we work with a lot, but we all have to work together to solve problems... It is unconscionable. We will all work together. I think what Borough President Adams is saying is smart. Get everyone talking to each other, bring in clergy, who obviously bring so much perspective about what families need at this moment. I think that's a good idea, and we will find a way to create something like that."

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The NYPD closed off the area near the funeral home to keep people away from the scene out of fear the infected bodies could spread the virus. No criminality is suspected, but the investigation is continuing. The New York state health department is also investigating.

New York State has seen more than 309,696 coronavirus cases and 23,616 deaths as of Thursday, reports the New York Times. In New York City, there have been more than 172,000 confirmed cases and 17,809 deaths reported. This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was considering re-opening upstate areas after May 15, but did not provide an outline for re-opening New York City.