Cemetery worker killed after being crushed by marble tombstone

NEWSCENTER 23
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POSTED: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 5:59pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 9:36pm

A tragic story developing today as Edinburg police investigate the death of a cemetery worker who reportedly died after a giant tombstone fell on him.

"I'm sick, I'm just heartsick," said Sandy Propst, property manager at Hillcrest Cemetery.

Those who knew and loved 64-year-old Lupe Mendoza are grieving his loss after what appears to be an accidental death this morning at Hillcrest Cemetery in Edinburg.

Police say they received a call at approximately 9 a.m. reporting that a worker was crushed by a collapsed tombstone.

"He was apparently doing some work on a large monument, he was doing some leveling work on it and unfortunately the monument came loose and fell on top of him and crushed him," said Edinburg police spokesperson Lt. Oscar Treviño.  "It appears to be on his chest area."

Investigators report Mendoza was dead when police arrived on the scene.  The exact weight of the tombstone hasn't been confirmed, but the cemetery manager tells Newscenter 23 the one that killed Mendoza was at least 2,000 lbs.

Since it was a work-related accident, OSHA must conduct an investigation, but workers say this tragic accident was unthinkable.

"We've had minor accidents before," cemetery worker Francisco Valdez said. "I have also fallen, but nothing like this.  Nothing."

Mendoza was a supervisor at Hillcrest Cemetery and worked there since 2003.  He was also a U.S. Army veteran.  His death is painful news to the manager of the cemetery.

"We joked because he talked about us old folks and that we could still do things, and he was a great guy," said Propst.  "We got to be really really good friends."

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