Historic Bourg cemetery takes extensive hit

The historic Bisland Cemetery in Bourg suffered thousands of dollars in damage when a drunk driver careened through a guardrail Nov. 7, damaging tombs and flipping his truck.

Wesley Little, 25, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after he lost control of his 2010 Nissan Pathfinder that Saturday afternoon, according to Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Maj. Malcolm Wolfe.

Little reportedly borrowed the truck from a friend and was speeding in a rainstorm along Par Road 51 when he lost control of the vehicle, Wolfe said. “The vehicle crashed into the guardrail [and] flipped into the graveyard.”

When TPSO deputies arrived at the scene, Little was sitting on the guardrail with no serious injuries.

Wolfe was uncertain if the truck was insured.

The damage to the cemetery was extensive. A tomb was knocked completely over and a vault underneath was exposed. Luckily, there were no coffins inside, but a number of tombstones were smashed and many iron crosses marking graves that date back to the 19th century were damaged.

“The graves that he hit, they are old graves,” District 9 Terrebonne Parish Councilman Pete Lambert said. “There’s nobody that really you can get in touch with anyone to fix them. The families are gone.”

The guardrail will also need repair, which Lambert said will cost between $4,000 and $5,000.

“This is going to be the third time since I’ve been in office that guardrail has been hit right there,” Lambert, who has served 12 years, said.

The Bisland Cemetery is owned and maintained by Terrebonne Parish. But that is where any parish obligation ends, said Geoffrey Large, assistant director of the Planning and Zoning Department for Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government. The repair of the tombs is the responsibility of the families.

Lambert said motor vehicle insurance only covered one prior incident, and that was limited to $10,000. The other time, the driver had a truck with four-wheel drive and simply backed out, never to be found.

Terrebonne jail trustys repaired the most recent damage. Concrete had to be poured to repair the tomb.

Qwan Vincent, whose father’s tomb was hit, told The Times that the tombstone marking his father’s grave could not be found.

According to Leonard Scott, owner of E & L Granite Monument Inc., the company that has built many of the tombs and tombstones in the cemetery, the tombstone could very well have been hit so hard that it could have simply disintegrated.

Scott said the damaged section of the cemetery was originally segregated for deceased white people. Many of them have been there for the life of the cemetery.

Scott said the northeast corner of the cemetery is the most vulnerable to drivers.

“There’s nothing wrong with where it’s at,” Lambert said. “It’s just always a drunk driver. I mean, for some reason, they are attracted to that like a magnet. I don’t know why. I guess they mistake it for another bar room or something.” •