Hearse carrying body ‘stolen’ at Australian funeral
An Australian family on Friday (Nov 28) spoke of their shock after a man jumped out of bushes and drove off in a hearse carrying the body of a relative just before his funeral.
Ms Hayley West and husband Mr Tobias Richardson were preparing for the funeral service of her brother-in-law Seth in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney on Thursday morning when the alleged carjacker made his move.
She told ABC Radio: “Just as we were talking in the foyer and one of the funeral directors was getting the trolley to put the coffin on, a guy jumped out of the bushes and jumped into the hearse and started it up.
“The funeral home guy was banging on the window, saying ‘What are you doing? You can’t drive away in a hearse’.
“We are all standing around, going ‘Oh my God, the hearse has been stolen’.”
Mr Richardson jumped into his own car to pursue the thief as Ms West called police and an aghast crowd watched the chase unfold.
The hearse drove into the grounds of a school, with Mr Richardson using his car to block it from being driven any further, the police said.
Said Ms West: “Tobias jumped out and said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’.
The guy meekly said, ‘I need to go to hospital’.”
New South Wales police officers arrived five minutes later to take the 49-year-old man away, adding that he had dementia and had gone missing from a nursing home earlier on Thursday.
Ms West said the funeral service carried on as planned after the hearse was returned.