Funeral home shut down amid reports of maggots, decomposing bodies

DETROIT — A Michigan funeral home has been shuttered amid allegations of a host of problems at the facility, including maggots in the garage, unrefrigerated bodies stored for months and a strong stench of decomposition.

The “deplorable” conditions discovered at Swanson Funeral Home in Flint led to it being shutdown Wednesday, according to officials with the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

The agency suspended the mortuary science license of the funeral home's manager, O’Neil Swanson II and the license of the funeral home because of health and occupational code violations, officials said. Swanson could not be reached for comment.

A complaint spells out issues reported by various people in connection with the Flint business over several years.

“This establishment needs to be shut down immediately!!!” a complaint made to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration in September 2015 reads. “The garage is consistently filled with human remains in varying stages of decomposition. These decomposing bodies (emit) foul odors into our community and is very unhealthy for us nearby residents.”

The agency inspected the Flint funeral home six times between June 14, 2012, and September 21, 2016, “verifying serious and repeated violations of standards and laws it enforces,” the document said.

State inspectors went to the funeral home in October 2015 prompted by a complaint from a funeral director at another facility and verified two unrefrigerated bodies were stored in the garage and had been there for at least five months, the document said.

About a year later, investigators received an anonymous call, went back to the funeral home and found 10 bodies were stored in the garage and maggots were crawling all over the floor, officials said.

“The stench of decomposition could be detected 30 feet away from the garage,” the document said.

A suspension order signed Tuesday said “the public health, safety or welfare requires emergency action.”

It's unclear how many families have funeral arrangements pending with the Flint funeral home.

The funeral home offered low-priced cremations and many of the obituaries on its website Wednesday involved cremations without services.

The funeral home has been repeatedly fined over the years, including $10,000 fines in November 2004 and again in October 2014, according to officials with Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Swanson is the son of O'Neil Swanson, who has owned and operated funeral homes in Detroit and Pontiac for decades. The two companies are not connected.

“The (Flint) license is held by Swanson’s Funeral Home, Inc. ... It is a separate legal entity and license from any facility in Detroit,” Licensing and Regulatory Affairs spokesman Jason Moon said in an email to the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit Free Press


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