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Out-of-Control Dump Truck Careens Through Graveyard, Smashing Tombstones

By Nicholas Rizzi | June 16, 2014 12:34pm
  A truck crashed through Moravian Cemetery, knocking down its gate and several historic tombstones.
Moravian Cemetery Truck Crash
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NEW DORP — An out-of-control dump truck smashed through a Staten Island cemetery Monday, obliterating a swath of historic tombstones before crashing through a stone wall and coming to a stop, the FDNY and driver said.

Driver Millard Richardson was carrying a load of asphalt on the downhill incline of steep Todt Hill Road when his brakes failed shortly before 8:45 a.m. He spotted nearby Moravian Cemetery on a sharp hill and decided to steer straight towards the burial ground, hoping an uphill stretch would slow the vehicle, he said.

He didn't realize the short climb would soon turn into a steep downhill stretch.

Richardson, 47, plowed his truck — filled with asphalt headed to a work site on Manor Road — into the cemetery and knocked down several tombstones before crashing through a fence, officials said. He finally cleared a stone wall and landed on Richmond Road around 8:48 a.m., the driver and FDNY said.

In his wake, a swath of stone graves lay smashed and thick tire tracks ran through the grassy memorial grounds. Workers at the cemetery did not know how many tombstones Richardson knocked down in the crash — but said one of them marked a grave from 1885.

Richardson, who is a driver for the Long-Island based hauling company Ameripave, said he "would have probably killed somebody" if he hadn't steered the runaway truck off Todt Hill Road.

"I did everything right. [It was] very terrifying," he said.

Officials from Ameripave declined to comment.

Richardson refused medical attention and there were no injuries or other vehicles reported in the accident, according to the FDNY.

A section of Richmond Road was still closed off at 11 a.m. and the FDNY remained on scene to clean up a fuel spill, the FDNY said.

The graveyard is the final resting place of former celebrities including Gambino mob boss Paul "Big Paul" Castellano, Robert Gouldshaw, the inspiration for Matthew Broderick's character in "Glory," and shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, according to findagrave.com.