ST. GEORGE — A Utah mortuary has been put on probation and fined $10,000 after allegations of misconduct involving mixing ashes, leaving bodies unrefrigerated and stealing jewelry from the deceased.
Carver Mortuary in Salt Lake City was shut down earlier this month after an emergency order issued by the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing suspended its license and the licenses of two of its directors, Shane Westmoreland and Tanner Carver.
The order and stipulation document was finalized Monday, requiring Carver Mortuary to pay a $10,000 fine with the amount owed increasing to $50,000 if the mortuary fails to meet the terms described in the order. As long as it does, the mortuary is open and operating.
The order comes after two former employees of the mortuary – which has contracts for cremations with other funeral homes, Intermountain Medical Center, Salt Lake County and the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office – alleged that mortuary workers had mixed ashes and cremated bodies without identification, left bodies unrefrigerated for days and stole jewelry.
The witnesses testified that the directors placed “fetal remains or infants” in the same cremation machine “as a deceased adult person,” the order states, and ashes that remained in the cremation device or that otherwise could not be identified, were thrown away.
“You don’t treat deceased people that way. Deceased humans, you don’t treat them the way they were treated at Carver Mortuary Services,” former Carver Mortuary employee Robert Price said, according to a Fox13Now report by Kiersten Nuñez.
The state emergency order includes findings that the mortuary also knowingly permitted employees who were not licensed to perform embalming and cremation services.
Price was one of those employees, but quit weeks after he started, the Fox13Now report states.
“I just couldn’t handle. You don’t do that,” Price said.
While he wasn’t the first to come forward, he played a vital role in exposing the alleged practices.
“I was just brought in as a witness, and I’m going to speak the truth,” Price told Fox13Now.
Despite having no license, a former employee said he was instructed to perform about 50 cremations and, once, to sew up a body after an autopsy.
One witness further testified he saw mortuary employees “wearing jewelry, watches and rings” of the deceased, the state order said.
Further investigation by state regulators confirmed some of the allegations, including issues with tracking remains and cremations.
The final order issued Monday states the mortuary will be placed on state probation for five years.
The business must submit a “practice plan” that describes how it will overhaul its policies, including new hiring protocols, an improved digital cremation tracking system and password locks so only licensed employees can access the embalming room and cremation chamber.
The mortuary also must fund an outside funeral service director who will oversee business operations and report back to the state on its progress.
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