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Brooklyn Funeral Home Has License Suspended After Storing Bodies In Unrefrigerated Trucks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Authorities have suspended the license of a Brooklyn funeral home where dozens of bodies were found in two unrefrigerated trucks earlier this week.

Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services on Utica Avenue in the Flatlands neighborhood struggled for days to handle the overwhelming number of COVID-19 bodies.

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.

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.

"Following an investigation by the State Department of Health, I issued an immediate suspension order to the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in Brooklyn – whose actions were appalling, disrespectful to the families of the deceased, and completely unacceptable," said state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "Funeral homes have a responsibility to manage their capacity appropriately and provide services in a respectful and competent manner. We understand the burden funeral homes are facing during this unprecedented time. That's why the state previously issued an order allowing out of state funeral home directors to assist during this crisis and took steps to ease administrative hurdles. But a crisis is no excuse for the kind of behavior we witnessed at Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home, and we are holding them accountable for their actions."

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.

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