A Valentine’s Day visit to a little girl’s grave in Uniondale was sad enough before the family found someone else’s headstone in her plot.
The discovery stunned the girl’s mother and grandmother.
“It was just really emotional for me,” the grandmother, Marlena West, 47, of Freeport, recalled Wednesday.
“And her mother is so ... she just can’t even handle it. It really messed her up. It was like she was reliving the tragedy of what happened to her daughter,” West said.
Amiyah Dunston of Baldwin was 9 when she was fatally mauled by a pit bull in November 2015 while playing with friends in an Elmont backyard.
She was buried at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, owned by the Town of Hempstead. The family has ordered a headstone but it hasn’t arrived yet.
“We don’t call it her grave, we call it her garden. She loved flowers and things like that,” West said.
After she reported the blunder, Gerald C. Marino, commissioner of Hempstead’s Department of General Services, saw to it that the incorrect headstone was removed by the monument company.
“He came out and was very sympathetic and apologizing for the error,” West said of Marino. “He told me this has never happened before.”
A spokesman for the firm, S & S Memorials Inc. of Hempstead, did not return a call seeking comment.
Wishing to spare the family that owns the headstone the same anguish, West said she tried unsuccessfully to contact them via Facebook.
She wrote: “Please if u have loved ones in Greenfield Cemetery please visit often! You just never know what to expect in this world today.”
Hempstead Town spokesman Mike Deery could not immediately say whether the other family had been informed of the mix-up.
Deery couldn’t recall a similar error, adding that separate procedures govern the placing of headstones and burying of bodies.
“We’ve extended our heartfelt apologies to the [Amiyah Dunston] family ... on behalf of the monument company that made the mistake,” he said.
West is still wounded.
“It’s really terrible and tragic,” she said.