Grave struck by lightning

Damage to the gravesite in Tumut Cemetery, believed to have been inflicted by a lightning strike on the weekend.

Snowy Valleys Council will attempt to contact the family of a couple whose grave in Tumut Cemetery was struck by lightning.

The double grave of Eunice Maria Bartholomew and Bertie Bartholomew was reportedly struck by lightning on Saturday, shattering marble and concrete and leaving a white zig-zag mark on Bertie’s headstone. Council is responsible for maintaining the cemetery’s grounds, but not the graves themselves.

“Our policy clearly states that the family is responsible for the head stones, although our staff will clear off the broken material,” Council Co-ordinator of Open Spaces and Facilities Andrew Burke said.

“The grave is not our responsibility, but we will endeavour to contact the family to notify them, and leave a note in our records.”

Tumut resident John Harris was stunned when, while visiting relatives’ graves on Sunday, he came across the damage. “I couldn’t believe the devastation,” he said. “I first noticed it by the trail of broken concrete.”

He quickly concluded that the damage couldn’t have been done by some random vandal. “It looked like it had been done with a stick of dynamite,” he said.

“When I saw the zig-zag stripe of the headstone I believed it was lightning. I spoke to a bloke walking his dog who said he heard a loud bang in the area on Saturday afternoon.” He believes that as well as hitting the headstone, the lightning conducted to metal reinforcement in the concrete and marble on the edge of the gravesite. Mr Harris said he passed on the location of the grave to Council workers at the site.