Baby suffers skull fracture after headstone falls on her at Detroit cemetery

A 10-month-old girl is at Children's Hospital after a headstone fell on her at a Detroit cemetery.

Jessica McFadden and her family were at Gethsemane Cemetery to pay respects to her grandmother on Mother's Day. When she placed her daughter, Melani, in front of the headstone for a photo, it fell on her.

"That headstone was not properly placed," McFadden said. "I didn’t know if my baby was alive under there. I couldn’t hear my baby, I couldn’t see my baby."

When she got the stone off of Melani, she saw that the child was hurt.

"She had a huge knot, and it was bleeding on the back of her head, and at that moment my daughter started vomiting, and she went out," McFadden said.


Melani was rushed to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a fractured skull.

"I’m just really angry, I guess you could say. I’m really angry that this happened to my baby, and I wasn’t there to do anything about it," said Melani's father, Jeremy McFadden.

Attorney Jonathan Marko is representing the McFadden family. He said that in addition to the headstone not being properly installed, the cemetery is not being properly maintained because of short staffing.

"It’s not like lightning struck and this tombstone suddenly fell down. This tombstone was a disaster waiting to happen," Marko said. "We have preliminary information that because of the staffing shortages they had to cut back on what they were able to do, but this is what happens when we cut funding and put a bare-bones operation in our public services – they don’t operate the way that they’re supposed to do operate."

The family said it appeared other headstones had also fallen over.

The City of Detroit owns the cemetery and provided a statement saying in part:

"The city extends its well wishes to the family and hopes for a full recovery for the child.

"Headstones are installed by third party companies hired by individual families. The cemetery operator has no record of any concerns about this specific headstone being in danger of falling, nor had it fallen and been previously reset."

The McFadden family said the headstone was installed about five years ago. They’re working to confirm who installed it.

"Because of poor maintenance – this could’ve been all prevented. Had it been properly placed, properly kept, whatever could’ve been done, this could’ve been totally prevented," Jessica McFadden said.