Police were called to a Brooklyn neighborhood Wednesday after a funeral home overwhelmed by the number of bodies from the COVID-19 pandemic resorted to storing them on ice in rented trucks, and neighbors complained about the odor, officials said. Dozens of bodies were found in two unrefrigerated U-Haul trucks at the funeral home, reports CBS New York.
One neighbor told the station the stench was "overwhelming." Some area residents said they've been complaining about the smell for a couple of weeks.
Investigators learned the business was overflowing with so many deceased that workers had to put bodies in two large U-Haul trucks outside that had no refrigeration, CBS New York said. The Associated Press reported that they were stored on ice.
No criminal charges were brought but The Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home was cited for failing to control the odors. The home was able to obtain a larger, refrigerated truck later in the day, officials said.
Workers suited up in protective gear could be seen in the afternoon transferring bodies into the refrigerated truck.
A person who answered the phone at the funeral home hung up without speaking. Subsequent calls went to voicemail, which was full.
New York City funeral homes have struggled in the city since late March.
The city set up temporary morgues. Hospitals used refrigerated tractor trailers to cart away multiple bodies at a time, sometimes loading them in public view on the sidewalk. Crematoriums have been backed up. Funeral directors across the city have pleaded for help as they have run out of space.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams went to the scene on Wednesday evening. He told the Daily News, "While this situation is under investigation, we should not have what we have right now, with trucks lining the streets filled with bodies."
He said, "It was people who walked by who saw some leakage and detected an odor coming from a truck."