CHICAGO (CBS) — Flooding and sinking graves at an historic cemetery where some famous Chicagoans are buried. CBS 2’s Jim Williams has the story from Oak Woods Cemetery.
Mayor Harold Washington, Olympic legend Jesse Owens, and activist and journalist Ida B. Wells are all buried at Oak Woods Cemetery; but CBS 2 looked at the grave of one young man. His site is in poor condition.
Rasell Bowman’s 26-year-old son, Eric Francis Harvey, died in his sleep. Every day since she buried him on March 1, she’s visited his grave at the Oak Woods Cemetery.
“I don’t sleep. I don’t eat. I have a hard time even trying to grieve him,” said Bowman. “It’s really eating at me.”
The evidence of flooding: A pool of water is along side her son’s grave. Other graves in the immediate area are sinking. Bowman took a photo of a hose extending to a sewer.
“It doesn’t even have to rain. It’s full of water all the time,” Bowman said.
She believes her son’s casket is surrounded by water. When asked how she’s convinced water is inside the grave itself, she offered this explanation:
“Because when they lowered my son in the grave and hundreds of people were out here. We were all witnessing the water pouring in from around the front and the sides.”
A spokesperson for Oak Woods had this statement:
“Our cemetery has been impacted by the inclement weather in the area over the past several weeks resulting in some pooling water in a small section of the cemetery. We are in the process of working with the Bowman family to help resolve their situation and provide closure.”
A letter sent to Bowman stated that Oak Woods is offering to bury Bowman’s son in another part of the cemetery, but only if the cemetery is not held liable for any damages to the Bowman’s son’s casket and body.
She is not willing to sign the agreement.
“What happens if we pull him up and he’s really messed up,” Bowman asked.
CBS 2 looked at other sections of the cemetery, including the grave of Mayor Harold Washington. All is well there, but not where Bowman buried her son.
“This condition has hurt my heart in ways that you can’t imagine.”
Bowman has now buried two sons at Oak Woods. An older son was murdered 20 years ago.