A New Jersey funeral home left a dead man’s ashes in an unlocked — and running — car that was then stolen from outside the building, a new lawsuit filed by the deceased’s family alleges.
After 62-year-old Walter Garcia, 62, died on Jan. 27, 2022, his wife and daughter paid the Macagna-Diffily Funeral Home in Cliffside Park to host a memorial service and then cremate his body, according to the suit obtained by NJ.com.
The service and cremation were held two days later.
Afterward, the funeral home told the family they’d be contacted to pick up Garcia’s ashes in three days.
The family had hoped to keep the ashes on display in their home, the suit, filed in Superior Court of Bergen County on Friday, claims.
But a week later they still had not heard from Macagna-Diffily. Garcia’s daughter decided to go to the funeral home to inquire about her father’s remains.
They were missing, she was horrified to learn.
“At that time, she was advised that decedent’s ashes had been left in an unlocked and running car which had been stolen,” the suit claims. The car had been parked in the driveway of the funeral home’s property.
The next day, the funeral home called Garcia’s daughter and said the car had been recovered but did not know about the ashes, according to the suit.
The family soon heard from police that although the car had been located, there were no ashes found inside.
“Leaving a running, open luxury vehicle is an invitation for something like this to happen,” the family’s Jersey-City-based attorney John Nulty told NJ.com. “The family feels like they lost their father twice.”
Video allegedly shows the funeral home vehicle unlocked when it was stolen by teenagers, according to the suit. The key fob had also been left inside of the vehicle, the family says it learned.
The Garcia family alleges in the suit that funeral home owner Anthony Macagna was “in possession of and/or transporting” the ashes when the vehicle was stolen.
They are suing Macagna and the funeral home for intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, and breach of duty for failure to return the ashes to the family.
Nulty said the teenagers who jacked the car likely dumped Garcia’s ashes out of the vehicle.
The Post has reached out for comment from the funeral home.