Pennsylvania Man Killed by Cemetery Headstone
A 74-year-old man from Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, is dead after a tragic accident in a Throop cemetery.
Stephan Woytack of Scranton died after a headstone fell on top of him while her was trying to decorate a family grave for Easter. Police said the “tragic accident” occurred at about 10 a.m. on Monday, March 30, at Saint Joseph’s cemetery in Throop, Pennsylvania. Woytack was kneeling in front of the headstone while his wife, Lucy, was behind it hanging a cross. The cemetery’s caretaker, ED Kubilus, was nearby at the time of the incident, and rushed to help. Kubilus has been the cemetery’s care taker for eight years. He said sees the couple come to the cemetery every year. “Every year, every year they are here. Two or three times a year also,” Kubilus said. “They’ll plant flowers here once the spring comes.”
ED Kubilus had just arrived to clean up part of the cemetery when Woytack’s wife came running up to him in need of help. “I just got started up there and she came running up. She was out of breathe when she hit me,” Kubilus said. “You’re not ready for it. I surely wasn’t.” The cemetery caretaker believes the headstone that fell on Woytack’s stomach and legs weighed about 500 to 600 pounds. Officials believe weather may have made the ground, the monument, and the base unstable. “Especially after the winter, right after winter, the ground is soft, the stones settle,” Kubilus said.
Throop police say there is no need for an investigation into the death. They are calling it a tragic accident. Throop Police Department patrolman, Scott Romanchick, reported that the incident was considered an accident due to conversations with groundskeepers, indicating that time and cold weather can cause adhesive holding headstones in place, to give way. “Stones are known to tip over occasionally,” stated Romanchick.
There was a combination of shock and sadness as news of the death spread throughout the community. Woytack was a well-known member of his parish and other people were surprised at the tragedy that unfolded. “It’s just something that you would never even think. It’s a freaky thing. I don’t know. It’s something that you don’t hear everyday,” Susan Martin, of Falls, said as she visited the cemetery shortly after police left the scene.
Bishop Joseph Bambera from the Diocese of Scranton was informed of the death and released a statement saying it was unimaginable to think that a visit of a faithful couple to the grave of loved ones right before Easter could have ended in such a tragic manner.