The mother of a man killed in the parking lot of a Prince George fast food restaurant nearly nine years ago is demanding the city pay for the damages she recently found to his headstone at the municipal cemetery.
While visiting the grave site of her son Brent Melanson, Val Stobbe came across what appeared to be scrape marks to a picture of her son on the headstone that appeared to be caused by a lawn mower blade.
The sight delivered another emotional blow to a woman whose son was murdered and the conviction of one of the two culprits, Ricky John Smith, was reduced to manslaughter from second-degree murder.
Cameron Alexander Miller was also convicted of manslaughter in the Oct. 31, 2004 confrontation at the Third Avenue Dairy Queen in which Smith was seen wielding a machete.
"I get up to Prince George to see my grandson, who was Brent's son, and I take him down to the cemetery to sit there for a bit and we see this damage, and he was even upset and he's like 11," Stobbe said.
She said the flat marker was put in place before upright headstones were allowed in that section of the cemetery. The headstone, which cost the family $3,800 to have made, is embedded into the ground. The photo is raised slightly but still meets specifications for the cemetery.
Stobbe, who lives in Kelowna where the headstone was made, said the maker estimates it would cost $392 to work up a new photo for the headstone. She's been given instructions on how to install the piece but is reluctant to do that work herself.
"I just want them [the city] to repair it," she said.
Stobbe said the headstone maker supports her suspicion it was caused by a lawnmower blade
"A lot of people have paid a lot of money for the headstones, you could be a little more careful," Stobbe said.
After being rebuffed by a lower-level employee, Stobbe said Friday she has talked to solid waste and parks supervisor Chris Bjorns, and has been told the city will foot the bill.
Bjorns declined to comment on Friday but in an interview earlier this week, Bjorns said city employees make every effort to avoid damaging grave sites.
"They really care about customer service here," Bjorns said.