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Hearse carrying veteran's body left unattended in Hardee's parking lot

By Ben Hooper
Hearse carrying veteran's body left unattended in Hardee's parking lot
David Disch snapped this photo Saturday of a hearse containing a flag-draped coffin parked unattended at a Virginia Beach Hardee's. WTKR-TV screenshot

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., June 8 (UPI) -- A Virginia man snapped photos of a hearse parked at a Hardee's restaurant with a veteran's coffin left unattended while two funeral home workers went inside.

David Disch said he was in the drive-through lane at the Virginia Beach Hardee's about 11 a.m. Saturday when he saw a Bliley's Funeral Home hearse park in the back corner of the parking lot and two people exit the vehicle to go inside.

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"After I got my food I went around behind it to confirm what I had seen, a flag-draped coffin inside," Disch told WTKR-TV. "You couldn't miss it."

"That just added to the fire that it was a serviceman," Disch said.

Disch posted pictures of the hearse on Facebook.

"I know we're all human, we have to eat, but protocols need to be changed, something needs to be changed," Disch said. "I don't think it would have bothered me as much, but when they both got out and proceeded in, that's what set me off."

Bill Carter, ceremony and planning team manager for Bliley's Funeral Home, confirmed the hearse was carrying the remains of Bobby Hill, 80, a retired master sergeant with the U.S. Air Force, to a 1 p.m. service at Rosewood Memorial Park in Virginia Beach.

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"In this case at least one associate was watching the locked and secured hearse while they were briefly inside a restaurant," Carter said.

Carter said the company informed Hill's family of the Saturday stop.

"The family was very pleased with our services and made sure to mention that to our associates. Bliley's takes the transportation and care of those people we serve very seriously and we have addressed this issue with our associates to ensure that our procedures are followed consistently," he said.

A similar incident last month in Florida saw a hearse carrying a veteran's remains videotaped unattended in the parking lot of a Dunkin' Donuts in New Port Richey.

Jim Rudolph, president of Clearwater-based Veterans Funeral Care, said the two employees from that incident were fired.

"When a car leaves the funeral home with a flag on it, it's on a stage... and we're in ceremony mode," Rudolph said. "Going into buy a doughnut with a flag-covered casket in your coach was a terrible lack of judgment."

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