Husband's Coffin Dropped and Broke Open During Funeral, Exposing His Body to Hundreds of Mourners
Thu, April 22, 2021

Husband's Coffin Dropped and Broke Open During Funeral, Exposing His Body to Hundreds of Mourners


In 2015, Debbie Swales, 52, was left horrified when her late husband’s coffin was dropped and broke open during his funeral, exposing his body to more than 400 people, reports Jen Mills of the UK’s highest-circulating newspaper Metro. Debbie was forced to hold a second funeral for her deceased spouse, Gavin, 55, after the incident. 

According to the grieving widow, the pallbearers who lowered Gavin at Newcastle’s West Road Cemetery dropped the wooden coffin. They left the scene, which forced the couple’s children to recover Gavin’s body from the ground. Debbie cries, “The lid smashed open and the kids jumped in [to his grave]. When lifting the coffin out it just fell to bits. Imagine that happening to your loved one. It is not private, 400 to 500 people were able to see him laid there.”


Photo: NCJ Media (via Metro)


Debbie and her family rearranged Gavin’s funeral two days later with a different funeral director. Even so, the damage has been done, as the memory of Debbie’s departed husband had been tarnished. According to the mother-of-eight, the incident could not make her forgive funeral director Clark Pearson. Debbie narrates, “When I saw Gavin he just didn’t look the same. He had a cut across his face as a result of the coffin breaking. It has haunted me ever since. I can’t get on with living my life because I’ve been grieving for so long.”


Photo Credit: Newcastle Chronicle (via Chronicle Live)


Gavin battled leukemia and kidney cancer in 2013. Brother Frankie donated his bone marrow, improving Gavin’s health. Sadly, his health deteriorated when he got pneumonia. Gavin passed away months after receiving a second transplant. Unfortunately, Debbie has not received an apology from Clark Pearson. 

Newcastle City Council has not taken measures against Clark Pearson for the accident. However, the authority met with all the funeral directors in the area to remind them of their roles and responsibilities. 




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