A tractor trailer truck struck a residence directly east of Meade Cemetery in Macomb Township then came to a rest on the edge of the cemetery. Holes are still in the ground from where the truck stopped.

A tractor trailer truck struck a residence directly east of Meade Cemetery in Macomb Township then came to a rest on the edge of the cemetery. Holes are still in the ground from where the truck stopped.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Crash damage assessed at Meade Cemetery in Macomb Township

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 15, 2019

 Meade Cemetery was established by Revolutionary War veteran John Crawford in 1837 and was designated a Michigan historic site in the 1990s. A couple hundred military veterans are buried at the cemetery.

Meade Cemetery was established by Revolutionary War veteran John Crawford in 1837 and was designated a Michigan historic site in the 1990s. A couple hundred military veterans are buried at the cemetery.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Not only was a home severely damaged as a result of an April 24 vehicle crash, a Michigan historic site was also torn up.

Upward of 40 headstones were destroyed at Meade Cemetery on 26 Mile Road, west of Omo Road, on the border with Ray Township.

“We really don’t know the full extent of the damage,” Meade Cemetery Board President Quince Lefurgey said two weeks after the crash. “We believe there’s between 30 and 40 graves that are disturbed.”

A semitruck struck a residence directly east of the cemetery, then came to a rest in the edge of the six-acre cemetery. Holes are still in the ground from where the truck stopped.

“Pulling up after the crash was unbelievable,” Meade Cemetery Board Secretary Melissa Schmitt said. “I did not expect the impact. It was more serious than expected.”

A Macomb County Sheriff’s Office press release states the semitruck was headed westbound on 26 Mile when witnesses stated the truck blew a front left tire. It lost control and entered into the eastbound lane of 26 Mile, striking a silver Ford F-250 pick-up truck.

“It’s amazing how it just blew that house apart,” Meade Cemetery board member Butch Milton said. “I worked for the county for 30 years and have seen crazy stuff, but I’d never seen anything like this.”

At the time of the crash, Lefurgey was golfing and said his phone wouldn’t stop ringing with folks alerting him of what happened.

“When I heard of the crash, I didn’t think much of it until I got here,” he said. “Then you look at how much damage was done, and it was like, wow. I would’ve never expected it to be this bad.”

Since the crash, minor cleanup has taken place.

“They put some headstones back up, but we don’t know if that’s where it belongs,” Lefurgey said. “All the stones are on footings, which have been torn out of the ground.”

Once a plan is set with a third-party insurance company, Lefurgey said workers from a landscaping company will re-pour footings and replace headstones.

“I think we’re fortunate that all the damaged headstones are relatively new,” he said.

A marker posted at the cemetery states the headstones exhibit trends in funerary art over two centuries, and the German script on markers reflects the migration of European immigrants to the area after the Erie Canal opened in 1825.

“It’s been here since the mid-1830s and was originally established when this was called Crawford Settlement,” Lefurgey said.

It was designated a historic site in the 1990s.

“John Crawford is buried here and he fought in the Revolutionary War, so that’s one of the reasons it was designated a historic site,” Lefurgey said.

Board members say the plan is for the site to be fully restored.

“We’re going to contract it out to the guy who does our burials,” Lefurgey said. “We’re going to do it with the most respect for the family members who are buried here.”

Surviving family members with gravesites that were impacted have been notified of the damage.

“I think they were understanding of what happened,” Schmitt said. “They realized it wasn’t on purpose.”

The cemetery is operated by nine volunteer board members, all of whom have family buried at Meade.

“We have a vested interest in the community and want to maintain it the best that we can,” Schmitt said.

She added that even though the crash was catastrophic, the “stars aligned to make it as least destructive” as it could’ve been.

Military veterans since every major conflict since the American Revolutionary War are buried at the cemetery. Lefurgey estimates a couple hundred veterans are at Meade Cemetery.

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