CHICAGO (CBS)– Mourners were locked out of a historic Chicago cemetery last week.
Oak Woods Cemetery visitors were angry. The cemetery blamed the incident on inclement weather, but it was a sunny weekend.
Bernard Hatch has four loves ones buried at Oak Woods, including his sister and a young man he mentored. Day after day, he’s been unable to get in to visit their graves.
“Very frustrating over the past week not being able to go into the cemetery and visit my loved ones,” he said.
The gates were first locked at noon last Wednesday, just as CBS 2 arrived at the cemetery to interview sisters Wanda Howell Denton and Marlin Howell, who are upset about the condition of their mother’s grave.
“They buried my mother in a mud-ridden sinkhole,” Marlin said on Wednesday.
That was after Rashall Bowman told CBS 2 her son’s grave was filled with water.
“I don’t sleep, I don’t eat,” Bowman said.
The cemetery insists they locked the gates for the safety of patrons and workers alike after days of rain.
Monday, after a sunny weekend, CBS 2 launched Drone 2 and flew over Oak Woods. Other than the historic lagoons, and a couple of small patches of water on roads, it was hard to see dangers to visitors.
“I’m seeing dry roads. Enough for me to get to this section over here to visit my mother and sister’s graves,” Hatch said.
CBS 2 has seen visitors pull up, then leave. Last week, a funeral procession was turned away. And over the weekend, Hatch says one woman was locked out after a four-hour drive to Oak Woods.
“They’re not giving a good enough reason for the gates to be closed this long,” Hatch said.
A City of Chicago spokeswoman said the city was notified last year that Oak Woods had a drainage problem, and told the owner was responsible for fixing the problem.
The cemetery has not responded when asked what has been done since then.