On Your Side: Crematory's probation doesn't heal family's wounds

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Editor's note: This article has been edited to clarify Westmoreland Services Inc. is owned by Bennett's Funeral Home.

The Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers has placed a Richmond-area crematory on probation following a mix up over infant's remains.

A grieving Petersburg relative was distraught last year over a discrepancy with the labeling on her cremated infant remains. The ashes of two, stillborn babies were switched and mistakenly given to the wrong families.

However, the decision to put Westmoreland Services Inc., which is owned by Bennett Funeral Home, on probation doesn't bring Quia Henderson closure. She says it is not enough and the mix up with her cremated daughter's remains still affects her greatly.

The consent order released Thursday by the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers found an employee of Westmoreland Services Inc. misidentified the cremated babies' remains, which were then placed in the wrong urns and given to the wrong parents.

Westmoreland Services Inc. is on indefinite probation for at least six months. Each of its crematory operators must complete one hour of continuing education on the proper way to identify and label remains and provide proof to the board that it completed the training. The additional training must take place within 60 days.

Any violation of the consent order  shall constitute grounds for suspension or revocation of Westmoreland Services, Inc. A statement from Westmoreland spokesman Jay Poole reads: "Westmoreland Services is very sorry this extremely unfortunate situation ever occurred. We are very thankful that it has been resolved .... Even though  such an occurrence had never happened before at our facilities, Westmoreland services has already undertaken steps to assure that it will not happen again. Westmoreland services intends to comply with the order full and considers the matter closed."

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