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Workers demolished a sidewalk made of tombstones

June 3, 2018

ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — At one Rock Hill home, an astonishing discovery recently was made by a construction crew demolishing an old walkway.

The sidewalk leading from the street to the porch was made from tombstones.

The stones had been laid, face and writing sides down. One huge stone, large enough for the names of a couple, was the porch step.

Work stopped immediately.

“We wanted to do the right thing, make sure we were respecting people and their families,” said Mike Hudson, owner of MD Hudson Builders, which is renovating the Izard Street home. “First thing we said was, ‘What if this was our family here whose name was on the stone?’ ”

Worker Robert Hilton saw the names and how many of the names etched in stone were of military veterans. The dates of death were mainly the 1980s and 1990s but some were before.

“This is Memorial Day coming up, and we took the stones out and cleaned them up real nice and set them aside,” Hilton said. “I come from a military family. If somebody had stolen a stone from a veteran, I would be hot.”

Crew chief Tony Mills immediately called the Rock Hill Police Department.

“We wanted to make sure this wasn’t an old grave site, cemetery, or any place where people’s loved ones might be disturbed,” Mills said.

Preston Hedgepath, youngest on the crew at age 19, said he saw the veterans names and worried that heroes graves might have been vandalized.

“With so many of these name being veterans, we just wanted to make sure the respect for the people and their families was handled right,” Hedgepath said.

Several Rock Hill police officers were sent to the site to investigate. Sgt. Leland Harrelson talked to officials at a Rock Hill monument company that researched many of the names on the stones and found the stones were likely taken from a scrap pile of stones decades ago, police said.

Many of the stones had grammatical or date errors that would have made them unusable as grave markers, said Capt. Mark Bollinger of the police department. The monument company told police that the stones had been left for people to take and use for walkways or other purposes, police said.

Officers also checked back through years of records to see if there were any instances of stolen tombstones and found none in the city, Bollinger said.

“This might be the first sidewalk made of tombstones call we have ever responded to,” Bollinger said.

Starr Brigante, owner of the home being remodeled, said she is proud the construction crew went the extra mile to seek answers when the stones were found. Brigante and her daughter have a home renovation company called Networks LLC, and have rehabbed other homes on the street.

The stones have been set aside for safekeeping.

Yet the mystery of how the stones ended up at the Izard Street home remains. Brigante, who recently bought the property, said she was just as shocked as the construction crew.

The crew is set to put in a new walkway soon.

The sidewalk will not be made of tombstones, Hudson said.

“The next walkway will not have anyone’ walking on gravestones,” Hudson said.

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Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldonline.com

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