A truck driver was ticketed for driving over six marked gravesites at a U.S. military veterans’ cemetery Monday in far southwest suburban Elwood.
About noon, maintenance crews at Abraham National Cemetery saw the 18-wheeler making a U-turn over the graves, narrowly missing several headstones, according to Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes.
“This is a travesty that demonstrates a complete lack of respect to our veterans when truckers ignore signs, illegally drive through a national veterans cemetery and run over this sacred burial ground,” Hayes said.
The cemetery at Route 53 and Hoff Road is adjacent to CenterPoint Intermodal Center, the nation’s largest inland trucking port. The 43-year-old Chicago man at the wheel was driving for Marko Transport Inc., based in south suburban Sauk Village.
“This was not in any way a deliberate act and both the driver and our company are sorry for what has occurred,” a company statement read. “We have been in contact with representatives for the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery since the moment of the occurrence. We intend to make full restitution for any and all damages.”
Marko Transport manager Greg Howard said a road closure prevented the driver from getting to a shipping facility on nearby Mississippi Street, and his GPS “inadvertently” directed him down Hoff Road into the cemetery.
Hayes said there were partial lane closures on Walter Strawn Drive at the time, but that the driver passed at least seven “no trucks” signs and another posting a weight limit.
“He had a very casual, cavalier attitude about the situation,” Hayes said.
The driver was issued three traffic citations for being over the weight and length limits, and for spilling debris on the roadway.
Crews have to wait until spring to evaluate possible structural damage to the graves, Hayes said. If any collapse, criminal property damage charges could be filed.