Man accused of destroying grave markers after crashing truck into cemetery

Truck crash into cemetery

QUASQUETON, Iowa — A Nebraska man is accused of damaging grave markers after crashing his truck into an eastern Iowa cemetery, authorities said.

According to a news release from the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, Kellen Phillip Beaver, 21, of North Bend, Nebraska, was arrested on June 15 and charged with first-offense operating while intoxicated/impaired, failure to maintain control and failure to maintain proper speed.

Police said that Beaver was speeding on Racine Avenue in a 1999 Ford F-250 at around 11:40 p.m. CDT on June 15 when he lost control of the vehicle while turning onto Water Street, KGAN-TV reported.

The truck veered off the road and rumbled through Quasqueton Cemetery, striking and destroying several headstones and grave markers before coming to a stop in a resident’s yard, according to the television station.

A passenger in the vehicle was cited for possessing an open container, the sheriff’s office said.

Members of the cemetery’s board said the damage is easily more than $50,000, KCRG-TV reported.

Lori Gericke, a member of the board, said 10 headstones were damaged.

“The insurance company of the party responsible has to come and do -- take a lot of pictures and do all of their investigating, and we can’t touch a thing until they have gotten that done,” Gericke told the television station. “They (headstones) have been tossed and turned and broken and twisted.”

It is not the first time a vehicle has barreled through the cemetery and caused damage.

“One incident was in January of 2023, and another one was in December of 2023,” Buchanan County Deputy Sheriff Cory Hartmann, told KCRG. Both were weather-related, he said.

“It’s the second time in about seven months,” Gericke told the television station. “And we were just about through with the first completion of getting all the stones repaired and back in order.”

Clerk Derhammer said his parents’ headstone was found 100 feet away from their gravesite.

“You see something like this -- it brings tears to your eyes,” Derhammer told KCRG.

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