Parents learn of son's death after stumbling on grave
A French couple were shocked to learn of their son's death by stumbling on his pauper's grave while attending another relative's burial, they told AFP on Friday.
Josiane Vermeersch had just finished burying her 54-year-old brother when a child in the family noticed that a nearby pauper's grave bore the same name as Vermeersch's son, Olivier Langlet. He died on July 5, aged 42.
"It's like being hit by a steam roller," she said, stood in front of the temporary wooden grave where her son was buried on Tuesday in the northern town of Hellemmes, outside Lille.
"Even a dog has a better grave," she said.
Olivier's brother Christophe said that when contacted, police said they had been unable to find the dead man's family.
"We want to know what happened," said Vermeersch, who is to take up her complaint with the justice minister in the hope the traumatic event is never repeated.
"We want the police who did not do their job to be punished," said Olivier's father, Elie Langlet.
Police said Olivier died of natural causes. The family will now arrange a "decent" funeral and decide whether they want an autopsy carried out.
Olivier's mother said she had not heard from her son for two months because of an argument they had, but that she had tried to contact him to tell him about his uncle's funeral.
Christophe said that his brother had a solitary temperament so the family was not unduly concerned that he hadn't been in touch.
Hellemmes deputy mayor Frederic Marchand said that it was up to police to find a dead person's relatives.
"It seems unbelievable that in 2010, with all the means the police have, they're unable to find the relatives of someone who has died," Marchand said.
© 2010 AFP