Cut water line floods eastern Oregon grave

PENDLETON, Ore. — A Pendleton couple buried their 24-year-old son last week but two days later found that his grave was a muddy mess and the casket was floating.

Workers had cut a water pipe to dig the grave in Pendleton’s city-operated Olney Cemetery but failed to tell the irrigation crew, so the water ran overnight, a city official said.

Arlen and Bonnie Bischke chose the spot for Tyler Wade Bischke because there were enough plots together for their family.

Parks workers had to cut through a 3-inch PVC water pipe to dig the grave. Arlen Bischke said city employees told him they would cut off water to that pipe.

But, he told the East Oregonian (http://bit.ly/12CZda5), he found the site filled with mud on Saturday.

“I was shocked,” he said.

Bonnie Bischke, still shaken, recounted Monday that she and others saw the opening of the pipe during the service, but assumed no water would flow from it.

Workers for the city Parks, Recreation and Cemetery department re-routed the water line Monday morning, using pumps to suck out muddy water.

Ron Martin, director of Pendleton Pioneer Chapel Folsom-Bishop, said no water got into the casket, and a concrete liner worked.

The casket floated, he said, but didn’t leave the grave.

Bonnie Bischke said the city’s parks director, Donnie Cook, talked to her Monday about refunding the money for the plot and buying a grave marker.

“We don’t like this situation any more than anyone else,” Cook said. “We try as best not to have incidents like this happen.”

But, he said, it would be too costly to install a monitoring system to shut down the system when leaks are detected.

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