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Falling tombstone kills 8-year-old boy playing in Arkansas cemetery at birthday party

LYNN, Ark. - Authorities say an 8-year-old boy who was playing in a church cemetery was killed after a tombstone broke and fell on top of him.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office says the boy was attending a birthday party at the church Saturday afternoon when the accident happened in the town of Lynn, about 100 miles northeast of Little Rock. Detective Andrew Turner tells Jonesboro television station KAIT the boy was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Turner says investigators do not believe foul play was involved. The boy’s name hasn’t been released.

The church’s pastor, Jeff Neely, says the boy was “full of life” and “just an 8-year-old rambunctious young man.” He says church members plan to support the boy’s family, both financially and in prayer.

Last year, a jury found that a Utah cemetery association was not negligent in the death of a 4-year-old boy who was crushed by a historic headstone, one of a handful of similar deaths around the country in recent years.

Lawyers for Carson Dean Cheney’s parents argued that the Glenwood Cemetery Association allowed the 250-pound, 1889 stone to get dangerously weak with shoddy maintenance and failed to warn people about possible danger, including that headstones had fallen before. They sought between $2 million and $4 million in damages.

In June 2012, the month before Carson’s death, a 4-year-old North Carolina girl was killed when a massive cross fell off a tombstone as she played before Bible study class. The following year, a cemetery worker in Texas died after a tombstone weighing about a ton fell on him in Edinburg. In September 2014, a 4-year-old child suffered a serious head injury when a tombstone fell on him in the Albany, New York, area.  

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