Car knocks over grave markers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 4, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — A drunken driver plowed through a stop sign Sunday morning, tearing through a hedge and knocking down headstones at Chestnut Hill Cemetery.
The Salisbury Police Department charged Stephen Asbury Martin, 62, of 629 Wiley Ave., with driving while intoxicated and possession of an open container after officers say he ran the stop sign at the intersection of Mitchell and Fulton streets about 10:45 a.m. and caused damage to a dozen grave markers.
“There are headstones knocked over and out of place,” cemetery coordinator Linda Davis said Sunday afternoon. “There is one small headstone that is broken to pieces, but the majority of them are just knocked off their bases, they weren’t cracked or broken.”
Davis said some markers were found 20 to 40 feet from where they were orignally attached.
“They are very heavy so they were really knocked for a loop,” she said.
The arrest report notes Martin “had very strong odor of alcohol, “slurred speech” and “couldn’t walk by himself.” His blood alcohol content and the speed he was traveling at were unavailable Sunday.
Salisbury Marble and Granite will be coming out to the cemetery this week to give an estimate for repair and replacement of the markers.
Salisbury Police Lt. Tom Wilsey said they estimate about $5,000 worth of damage.
After the estimate is complete, Davis will turn it into Martin’s car insurance company.
“We’ve never had a problem with insurance companies reimbursing us,” she said. “Everything will be put back exactly the way it was.”
This isn’t the first accident the cemetery has endured. Davis has seen at least two other people lose control around the curve at South Main Street and cause damage to one or two grave markers.
“It’s not like it hasn’t happened before,” she said. “It’s more of a mess than anything else.”
Martin sustained minor injuries in the accident.
He was given a written promise to appear in court on Oct. 7.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.