Hearse Struck by Oncoming Car During Funeral Procession

On May 4, a funeral procession through Birmingham was interrupted when a motorist failed to yield at an intersection and struck the hearse.

The accident happened at Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard and 31st Street North.  Traffic had been stopped by a motorcycle scout escorting the procession when the collision took place.

Sgt. Johnny Williams, Jr., Birmingham police spokesman, said the driver and front seat passenger of the hearse were taken to a hospital for observation, though there were no visible injuries.  Both of these individuals were employees at Arrington Funeral Home.

Williams stated that fortunately there was no damage to the coffin and the funeral home sent another vehicle to transport the casket on to the funeral.

Alabama law does not address stopping for funeral processions, said State Trooper spokesman Curtis Summerville.  However, if a procession is escorted by police officers, you must obey their directives.  Summerville called it an “unspoken rule” in Alabama to stop for funeral processions.  Summerville also said that here in the South, most people do it out of courtesy and respect for the family, and that it has been done here so long that some think it’s the law.

If you choose to stop for a procession, it is advisable to pull off the road in a place that won’t cause a traffic hazard.  Stopping in the street is not only unwise, but against the law as well. 

Summerville said that if a motorist stops in an unsafe area and  causes a wreck, he could be held responsible.