NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of bodies were found in two unrefrigerated trucks near a Brooklyn funeral home Wednesday.
Neighbors say Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services on Utica Avenue in the Flatlands neighborhood struggled for days to handle the overwhelming number of COVID-19 bodies.READ MORE: COVID Vaccine Mandate For New York City Teachers To Take Effect After Federal Appeals Court Lifts Temporary Ban
Officers were called around noon Wednesday after those neighbors reported a foul odor. Some residents in the area say they’ve been complaining about the smell for a couple of weeks.
One neighbor told CBS2’s Alice Gainer what he saw on Tuesday.
“They were unloading bodies. They had bodies all over the floor inside the funeral home. They came out one by one, blood dripping. And those guys that was working, they’re eating with nothing in their hands. No masks, no gloves, nothing, and it looked like something fishy because of the amount of people these people was collecting,” one man said. “Oh, the smell, forget it. It was overwhelming.”
Hazmat, Department of Health investigators and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection were all called to the scene.
Once inside, officials learned the business was overflowing with so many deceased that workers had to place dozens of bodies in two large U-Haul trucks outside, which had no refrigeration.
“They had minivans dropping off, they had U-Haul dropping off, and we thought this was a cemetery, you know what I mean? It was overwhelming,” one man said.
An aerial view from Chopper 2 shows hazmat teams covered head to toe in protective equipment Wednesday, carting bodies away.READ MORE: R. Kelly Found Guilty Of All Counts In Sex Trafficking, Racketeering Trial
The NYPD says the Department of Health is now investigating.
While there is no criminality, the funeral home could receive violations for improper storage.
Under law, funeral directors are required to store bodies in appropriate conditions and to follow routine infection prevention and control precautions.
“If it was my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, they’re not respecting the dead. I’d be very upset,” neighbor John DiPietro told CBS2’s Christina Fan.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams says the traumatizing sight is one the neighborhood should have never seen. He is putting together a bereavement committee to better handle the extreme loss of life the city has seen.
“It’s going to include our funeral directors, representatives from our morgues that are in the hospital, everyone that’s part of handling bodies, cemeteries, we want the entire process to be coordinated,” Adams said.
Adams says meeting will be held Monday.MORE NEWS: Some Health Care Workers Still Defiant As New York State Vaccine Mandate Takes Effect
CBS2 reached out to funeral home many times for comment, but no one answered our calls.