UPDATE: Volunteers clean up cemetery damaged by drunk driver - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Volunteers clean up cemetery damaged by drunk driver

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UPDATE: Over 20 volunteers and family members were present to help clean up
Monteagle Cemetery.

Town officials, community members, family and Cemetery Association all worked together to make this happen.

A drunk driver goes on a destructive ride in a Marion County cemetery, knocking down, ripping up and cracking tombstones. The suspect is behind bars as the news is broken to family members of the deceased.

Monteagle Cemetery is the largest one in that area, and the place police say 32-year-old Aaron Westerfield decided to drive drunk Tuesday night. Neighborhood watch heard the sound of his car crashing into grave sites and called 911. The community is planning to get together Saturday to pick up the pieces.

"I mean it was desecrated. The pain we have felt from the people and concern 'was it our family' that was hurt," Monteagle Cemetery Association Board member Iva Michelle Russell said.

Tire tracks show the path of a drunk driver barreling through Monteagle Cemetery Tuesday night.

"I've never seen nothing like this. I've got 25 years, and I've never seen a cemetery torn up and destroyed like this," Monteagle Police Chief Virgil McNeece said.

Neighborhood watch notified police, who caught Aaron Westerfield in the act. His car was stuck on a tall tombstone. They say his body and breath reeked of alcohol, and had an open container in his vehicle.

"The devastation he's done to families is just heart wrenching. you just think about this is the last place you lay your family member, and then you come to this," Chief McNeese said.

Two of the around nine damaged headstones mark the final resting place of a military veteran. His remaining family lives out of town and says they can't afford the thousands of dollars is would cost to repair it.

"We think we're going to be able to get it back up and represent what it's supposed to. It's still a shame though," Russell said.

The city, cemetery association and a group of volunteers will spend Saturday morning, doing the best they can to repair the damage with elbow grease and a special glue.

"We are very blessed to live in a very caring community," Russell said.

"If I can get so many with a backhoe we can lift with it, and to help rake and try to help me set them in. I'm not the strongest this in the world anymore," Monteagle Alderman Harry Parmley said.

If you want to volunteer, the cleanup starts at 9 a.m. Central Saturday at Monteagle Cemetery.

Aaron Westerfield is in the Marion County Jail on nine charges, including desecration of honored places, injury to cemetery property, his second DUI, and resisting arrest.

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