Couple waits a year for son's headstone

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX -- Having to bury your own child is gut-wrenching, but that's exactly what John and Sandy Fitzgerald had to go through.

And although they buried their son a year ago, they still don't have the headstone that they ordered.

"I don't know for sure that this is even Dennis' spot and there's no way for me to tell without his headstone here to know," John Fitzgerald said.

When John and Sandy Fitzgerald try to visit their son's gravesite, it turns into a guessing game because without a headstone, they're not even quite sure where he's buried.

"People call and say, 'Where's his gravesite?" Sandy Fitzgerald said. "They can't tell where he is because it's not marked. It has nothing there."

The Fitzgeralds lost their 20-year-old son, Dennis, one year ago this month. He was killed in the East Valley in a motorcycle accident.

Sandy Fitzgerald remembers watching the news that night, but she had no idea her son was the one who was killed.

"I never once expected to lose a child, ever!" she said. "It's just a horrible, horrible feeling."

The Fitzgeralds buried their son and then ordered a $1,500 headstone to mark his grave.

They ordered it from a place called Everlasting Monument in Mesa, but when they went to finalize their order there were a couple of problems.

For starters they realized the company misspelled a word. "Be Forgotten" is actually two words, not one.

"I saw it right away and I asked her what happened here and she pulled out all of her notes and she had it written down correctly, but whoever did the proof messed the proof up," Sandy Fitzgerald said.

Everlasting Monument made the corrections and says it sent the order to California where the headstone was to be made.

That was nearly a year ago and to this day, the Fitzgeralds say they still haven't received the headstone.

"Nine out of 10 times that I talk to them they say it's in the mail or it's being shipped, it's on its way here," John Fitzgerald said.

Everlasting Monument offered to return the Fitzgeralds' $1,500, but the couple didn't want the money, they just wanted their son's headstone.

After 3 On Your Side got involved, the headstone finally arrived.

The owner of Everlasting Monument tells 3 On Your Side, "I feel so bad about the Fitzgeralds, but there was nothing we could do. I feel so bad that this has hurt them."

Everlasting Monument says because of the Fitzgeralds' experience they will stop using the California company.

As for the Fitzgeralds, they're happy their son's headstone, with correctly spelled words, is finally on their son's gravesite.

Everlasting Monument tells me that employees drove all the way out to California to pick up and bring back the headstone themselves and it had nothing to do with 3 On Your Side's involvement. However, the Fitzgeralds say things didn't start moving until we stepped in.

Regardless, after waiting a year, they are happy to finally have a headstone on their son's gravesite.