Burial vaults exposed after Maui cemetery collapse - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Burial vaults exposed after Maui cemetery collapse

MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The final resting place for more than two dozen people at a Maui cemetery was disrupted after a collapse nearly a year ago, and repairs still haven't been completed.  Maui Memorial Park opened in 1964 on a slope facing the West Maui Mountains, but when a portion of that hillside collapsed last December, it left behind an unsettling sight for many visiting families.

Margie Porter visits her Mom and Dad who are buried at Maui Memorial Park every week.

"It's a disgrace.  It's very disrespectful.  It just breaks my heart, regardless if it was my parents or for anyone who is buried there and their families," said Porter by phone from Pukalani, Maui.

What's troubling Porter and many others who have loved ones at the cemetery is the sight of burial vaults emerging from the hillside, exposed to the elements.

"They're all sticking out of the hill," Porter described.

Officials say a portion of the retaining wall collapsed last December, causing a rock and sand slide that exposed several burial vaults, but never any caskets.  Approximately 12 to 15 graves and nearly 20 urns were displaced.

"Once we removed the deceased from the burial vault and relocated them, we left the vault in the hillside because the contractor advised us to do that to keep the integrity of the hillside until we could repair it," explained Steve Hawley, a consultant with North Star Memorial Group, which oversees Maui Memorial Park.

Ten months later, Porter wants to know what's taking so long.

"It should be fixed right away, just because it's so – it breaks my heart to pass there every Saturday and to see those caskets," said Porter.

Officials say soil testing, engineering studies and permitting took time.  

"We certainly understand and that's why we're excited to get this finished and completed by the end of the year.  We just appreciate very much their cooperation and their patience as we go through this project,"  Hawley said.

According to officials, the families impacted by the collapse have been very understanding and their loved ones will be moved back to their final resting place once repairs are complete.

"It does make me feel a little bit better that the families know, but I'm pretty sure they could cover that area up with a black tarp or something that you don't have to see that every time you pass by because it really doesn't – it's not a nice looking sight at all," Porter said.

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