LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County hosted an online ceremony today to mark the burial of 1,740 people who died in 2018 but whose remains went
unclaimed by relatives or loved ones.
The service included the Lord’s Prayer in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian and prayers, songs and blessings by a rabbi, an iman, a Native American sage and chaplains from several Christian denominations.READ MORE: UCLA Student Punched, Robbed In De Neve Plaza For Property He Was Selling
The individuals honored at the Los Angeles County Crematory and Cemetery in Boyle Heights died in 2018. The county generally holds the cremated remains for three years before burial to allow family members and loved ones a chance to claim them.
The ashes were placed in a single mass grave a couple of days earlier and a marker indicating the year of cremation will be placed atop the plot.
Though the numbers do not reflect deaths related to the pandemic, the total is nearly 20% higher than the average over the prior five years from 2016-2020. The total of unclaimed dead was below 1,500 until last year, when 1,547 individuals were unclaimed by family or friends.READ MORE: Murder Suspect Leads Police On Pursuit From Ontario To North Hollywood Following Slaying
Supervisor Janice Hahn, who spoke during the memorial, adjourned Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors in memory of the dead.
“The ceremony is part of a commitment that the county has upheld since 1896 to ensure that everyone in Los Angeles County, no matter their means, is laid to rest with respect and dignity. They may have left this world alone, but they were one of us,” Hahn said, as her voice broke with emotion, “and our responsibility to honor their lives and grieve their deaths falls to us.”
Last year’s interfaith remembrance was also virtual due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Family members searching for deceased loved ones can call the county Office of Decedent Affairs/Morgue at 323-409-7161 or the Medical Examiner’s Office, 323-343-0512. The cost of cremation may be waived for families facing financial hardship.
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This morning we held our annual ceremony to lay to rest the 1,740 residents who passed away in 2018 and whose remains went unclaimed. The responsibility of celebrating their lives and mourning their deaths has fallen to us. pic.twitter.com/8AGF9Nkb3l
— Janice Hahn (@SupJaniceHahn) December 1, 2021
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)