Swanson Funeral Home located in Flint, Michigan after discovering rotting bodies, maggots, and “deplorable” conditions
The formal complaint reveals that the Swanson Funeral Home had been getting regular complaints and violations since 2012
Bodies were often stored in cardboard cremation containers inside an un-air conditioned garage
The Swanson Funeral Home was forced to close their doors on Wednesday
It is like the plot of a bad horror movie. A funeral home owner that stores dead bodies in an un-air conditioned garage for months at a time. Maggots, blood and other fluids are regularly seen around the building, and the smell of death is hardly masked by the use of cheap incense.
These were the conditions of the Swanson Funeral Home that was forced to close down on Wednesday due to their “deplorable” conditions, according to officials from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) under the ownership of O’Neil Swanson II.
A History Of Violations
According to the formal complaint, at least eight serious complaints were filed against Swanson Funeral Home with the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA) between 2012 and 2016. The complaints claimed that Swanson Funeral Home was violating employee health and safety rules administered by MIOSHA.
MIOSHA issued four citations with proposed penalties of $34,100.00. The citations were related to the “handling, custody, care or transportation of a dead human body.”
September 5, 2015
According to a complaint from September 5, 2015, the building smelled of decomposing bodies. At least “40 sets of cremains” sat on the lobby floor. Fly strips were hanging in the hallway behind the chapel. Blood and fluid stained casket pillows were also seen in the hallway. Two bodies stored in the garage were “leaking out of the cremation containers,” and “blood and fluids” were said to be covering the floor in the preparation room located in the basement.
October 8, 2015
On October 8, 2015, LARA Investigator Richard Whitacre, along with MIOSHA Investigator Matthew Macomber, found horrifying issues during an inspection.
During the inspection, it was discovered that two unrefrigerated bodies were being stored in the garage. The remains were stacked on top of each other in cardboard cremation containers against the back wall.
A respondent of Swanson II verified that the bodies had been stored in this manner since at least May, roughly five months before the time of the inspection. The dates of death for the two individuals was February 20, 2014, and November 24, 2014.
The complaint goes on to say that on September 12, 2016, LARA Occupational Code Manager Jon Campbell spoke to an anonymous caller who claimed that the Swanson Funeral Home was keeping at least 40 decedents’ bodies in their garage.
September 14, 2016
On September 14, 2016, LARA Investigators Brandon Wilson and Thea Hines made a “field stop” at the Swanson Funeral Home. This time Swanson II was said to be present during the inspection.
It was found that the preparation room had “remnants of embalming,” along with “dried blood, hair, and pieces of tissue” in the hand wash sink. Swanson II claimed the remnants were from an embalming the day prior. It was discovered the walls of the preparation room were not constructed of washable of waterproof material.
During the inspection, ten bodies were discovered, all of which were stored in cardboard cremation containers in the “un-air-conditioned garage,” and all had been there for an excess of 72 hours. One decedent had been there for roughly six weeks, un-embalmed. It was learned that only one of the ten bodies had been embalmed.
The stench of the decomposing bodies was said to be detected from 30-feet away. On the day of the inspection, it was 72 degrees outside and estimated to be 80 degrees inside the garage. Maggots were seen along the floor of the garage, and a door that would not close all the way allowed vermin to enter as they pleased.
May 15, 2017
On May 15, 2017, following media backed accusations that Swanson Funeral Home had mixed up two women’s bodies, State Investigator Marshall Ogan conducted an unannounced inspection. Swanson II was not present for this inspection.
The temperature was said to be 60 degrees, as Swanson II’s employees led Ogan to the garage that still was not air conditioned. Inside the garage, Ogan found five more bodies inside cardboard containers that had been stored more than 72 hours.
One of the bodies had been there since April 20, 2017. Some of the bodies were stacked, causing the bottom of the cardboard containers to be crushed. Only one of the five bodies had been embalmed. One of the un-embalmed bodies had been there since February 3, 2017.
Order Of Suspension
LARA suspended the mortuary science license of the funeral home’s manager, O’Neil Swanson II, and the funeral home due to health and occupational code violations. It is terrifying that problems with the Swanson Funeral Home date back to 2012, yet they were allowed to operate while repeatedly committing the same violations for five long years.
Swanson II’s father is O’Neil Swanson, who has operated Swanson Funeral Homes in Detroit and Pontiac, but the businesses have no legal connection to the one located in Flint. The actions against the Flint location has”no impact” on the Detroit and Pontiac locations, according to Bob Berg.
“The allegations the state has made against the Flint home are shocking and go against every principle of mortuary science. We have served the community for 59 years and have established an unchallenged record of providing experienced, compassionate service. I want to make it clear to all that the steps taken by the state against the Flint business do not impact us in any way,” the elder Swanson told Detroit Free Press in a press release.