Father digs his son's grave - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Father digs his son's grave

Melvin Critney Melvin Critney

By Caroline Moses - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After cancer took the life of a 15-year-old boy, his family dug the teen's grave themselves to save on funeral costs and also received assistance from complete strangers to give him a proper burial.

Melvin Critney lost his battle with cancer last week. His father, Melvin Stewart, said his son was sent into the world with a mission, which he did well. He said Melvin left an impression on everyone he came across. Even Melvin's nurses said he had a special kind of energy. They said he was always grateful and grown-up. His mother, Rosland Critney, said most of all he wanted to see his parents not have to work so hard to live like other people.

Melvin's parents said they make just enough money to get by. When their son had to undergo several rounds of chemo therapy, they relied on St. Jude for funding. However, when Melvin died, his parents were on their own to pay for the funeral. Stewart said everything was about the money. A local funeral director told the family it would cost $5,000 to bury their son. Funeral Director Hall Davis, IV told them they could save $300 if they dug their own grave. He said it is a common practice.

Melvin's father, cousin, and two uncles started digging. Stewart said digging the hole he knew his son was going to be placed in as his final resting place was not a pretty picture. Even after digging into the depths of despair, this family still owed the funeral director more money. Davis said the funeral home always gets paid in full before the funeral.

The Louisiana State Troopers Association heard about this family's fight and felt compelled to help. Sgt. Mary Beth Stupka said the association had never stepped in to help a family with funeral arrangements prior to this situation. The resources were pooled to pay the remaining costs. Help arrived from people the family never knew, but they're certain their son had a hand in it.

Melvin's family did not have insurance for funeral expenses. Local funeral directors say that's a common cause of concern for many struggling families.

If you'd like to donate to the Louisiana State Troopers Association, the group who helped this family with funeral costs, you can visit their website and click on "donate":


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