ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) – Odessa Police say a man intentionally drove into the Ector County Cemetery early Sunday morning.
According to OPD, officers were dispatched around 5:42 A.M. on October 24th to the area of E. Murphy and S. Muskingum. OPD says the man caused the crash on purpose, striking a fence and multiple headstones in the process. The man told officers he wanted to end his life. He survived the crash, and has since been taken into protective custody.
County groundskeepers spent Monday morning and afternoon working to clean up the mess left behind. Headstones that were knocked over were picked up. A broken fence was repaired. But tread marks can still be seen on several plots.
A number of drivers stopped by the county cemetery to check on the condition of their loved ones’ graves.
Approximately six or so plots were damaged.
From the appearance of the tire tread marks, it shows how a vehicle made its way onto the cemetery grounds from the corner of the lot. The vehicle drove at least 25 yards into the cemetery, leaving headstones in disarray.
One woman stopped to see the damage caused to her father’s gravesite. She wanted to remain anonymous, but says she found out about the damage Sunday morning around 6:30 A.M.
“It was still dark, because my brother-in-law has to work that early. So, he passed it and he saw it. We’re in a group message and that’s how we found out,” the woman said. “And then I got here and I’m like ugh…”
Yet, despite the serious disturbance to the gravesite, she says she forgives the person who caused the damage. The interview with the woman was conducted before OPD released the cause and tragic reason behind the damage.
“You never know what they’re going through. Because this can be fixed,” she said.
Ector County Commissioner of Precinct 1, Mike Gardner, said crews are making sure everything gets put back to order like it was before the crash.
“We’ll get new headstones ordered. We’ll get them put back up. And I am sorry for the inconvenience it has caused the families and the stress it put on families. I know that is has. And it’s a sad deal, but you know what? We’re going to work real hard to put everything back the way it’s supposed to be.”
One question remains: who will pay for the damage?
County Commissioner Gardner says, ideally, the insurance company of the man who caused the damage would pay. But if he doesn’t have insurance, then the bill may fall onto the cemetery’s insurance company.