Speeding driver blamed for trashing historic cemetery

CROSBY, Texas (KTRK) -- Barrett Station Evergreen Cemetery is the final resting place of many of the pioneers who founded the east Harris County community generations ago. Many of their descendants live in the same community today.

They're stunned to see the cemetery now.

Late Saturday, a truck with an 18-year-old driver behind the wheel, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, was speeding on the curving public road that bisects the cemetery. According to investigators, the truck went out of control, and mowed down headstones, traffic signs, and a fence on a neighboring house. The mowed green lawn in the graveyard now has ruts left by the truck.

The driver was given two tickets when he returned Sunday to have the truck towed. One was for speeding, and the other for failure to stay in a single lane.

"I don't understand how you can do so much damage, and you know you did it. If there was a party, and somebody chasing me, and I wake up in the morning and say, 'I done wrong. Let me see what I can do to fix it.' That didn't happen," said Rod Barnaba, who has family at Evergreen.

A dozen headstones were damaged, some knocked yards away from where they rested. A number of the graves are shallow, with domed concrete crypt covers. One of those was crushed by the weight of the truck, and a casket is partially exposed. It belongs to an Army veteran, laid to rest in the 70's.

The cemetery is a non-profit, and maintained by descendants. It has more than 2,000 graves, and includes a "pauper's section."

Melody Fontenot is on the cemetery committee, and the husband she lost only a year ago was laid to rest at Evergreen.

For her, the damage is personal. She wonders if there's more than reckless driving to blame. The sheriff's office continues to investigate.

The cemetery is not fenced, and is bisected by a public road built years ago. Graves were moved, Fontenot said, to make way for the road. She believes that after this, the time has come for the road to be closed.

"With all the extra traffic we have now, our loved ones need to rest in peace," she said.
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