A South Salt Lake mortuary facing misconduct allegations can remain open, but it will have its activities closely scrutinized under probation in the coming years, Utah’s funeral services board decided Monday.
Carver Mortuary’s former funeral directors, Tanner Carver and Shane Westmoreland, will not be running the business as it looks to recover from the scandal. Both men recently surrendered state licenses required for the job, according to Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) records.
The funeral board, part of DOPL, decided Monday to allow another Carver family member — Tyler Carver — to operate the business as funeral director. The board also approved a third-party funeral director to monitor Carver’s practices and report to the state what he finds, said Brandon Burningham, a board member and funeral director at Jenkins-Soffe Funeral Home.
Problems at Carver Mortuary surfaced two months ago, when two former Carver employees told state regulators that mortuary workers had cremated bodies without properly identifying them, mixed ashes, left bodies unrefrigerated and stole jewelry from the deceased. They said they were not properly licensed for the work they did, and neither were many others.
DOPL investigators confirmed some of the allegations, including problems the mortuary had with tracking remains.
On Monday, the state funeral board also directed the mortuary to return within 20 days a detailed “victim redress plan” — laying out how the business will identify bodies that may have been misidentified or commingled with other remains, and then notifying families of the discrepancies, Burningham said.
The funeral director who was approved to oversee the mortuary’s practices is Chad Anderson, president and funeral director of Goff Mortuary. His services will be paid for by Carver Mortuary, and he will make regular reports to state regulators on the mortuary’s progress.
Anderson said in a Monday interview that he sees his role as “cleaning up some minor [poor] practices” at Carver. He said he did not believe some of the allegations were true — such as the commingled cremains — and may have been made due to “disgruntled employees.” He said Carver Mortuary was “fully cooperating, and striving to make improvements.”
Burningham said the board approved the rest of the order, compiled by DOPL in November. According to the order, the mortuary must pay a $10,000 fine and could fork over up to $50,000 if it doesn’t meet any of the requirements.
Carver Mortuary also must carry out an overhaul of its policies — including revised hiring protocols, an improved digital cremation-tracking system and password locks so only licensed employees can reach the embalming room and cremation chamber.
A DOPL spokeswoman, Jennifer Bolton, declined to comment Monday on the board’s decisions. An attorney for the mortuary, Matt Lewis, was not available to comment.