By JOE VIGIL
LAS VEGAS (KVVU) — The executive director of the Nevada Funeral and Cemetery Services Board called the storage of decedents at Hites Funeral home this summer “unacceptable,” and said cases that involve a lack of dignity and respect of bodies are the worst cases.
“Just because there’s an expectation that families have that their loved ones are going to be treated well,” Jennifer Kandt said.
The funeral board ended up suspending the license at Hites for six months after a surprise inspection by Kandt.
Hites was told to complete burials or cremations, or transfer decedents elsewhere in 30 days. Kandt said at the time of the suspension, there were 186 decedents in the care of Hites. While a few funeral homes accepted decedents, there were still many inside when the 30-day deadline arrived.
“Luckily, at the last minute, we did have another funeral home step up, Bunkers Mortuary. They agreed to take the remaining cases. And I was there on the final day to make sure that all the decedents did get transferred by the deadline, and they did,” said Kandt.
Bunkers Mortuary officials said they accepted 60 decedents and were working to locate family members of each person. It was successful in locating some family members. Officials said they will work with social services on decedents who are considered abandoned. Clark County Social Services would then authorize a cremation and possibly pay for them.
“Bunkers Mortuary believes it is our moral and ethical responsibility to assist these grieving families during a very difficult time in their life. We plan to provide them and their loved one the care and respect they have deserved from the beginning,” said Bunkers Mortuary Managing Partner Larry Davis.
Hites declined to comment on Wednesday, but Kandt said Hites was cooperative in the transfer process and continues to be very cooperative.
Back in August, Hites Funeral Home Director Eric Lee talked during a funeral board hearing.
“In response to the allegations made against us, I’m not here to say those things didn’t happen. They are isolated incidents though,” Lee told the board.
Lee also said key staff members were out sick for a while due to COVID-19 or other health issues and said he tried to hire more staff to improve things, but it took longer than expected.
“We’re continuing to move forward trying to make this place a better facility,” Lee said.
Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.