01 dead bodies brooklyn funeral home
Dozens of bodies found in trucks outside funeral home
01:05 - Source: CNN
New York CNN  — 

The New York State Department of Health has suspended the license of a Brooklyn funeral home where dozens of bodies were discovered in trucks Wednesday, according to a statement by the state health commissioner.

The actions of the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home were “appalling, disrespectful to the families of the deceased, and completely unacceptable,” said New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in a statement.

The suspension is immediate and was made following an investigation by the health department, according to the statement.

Zucker said the state had issued an order allowing out-of-state funeral home directors to help during the coronavirus pandemic and had eased administrative hurdles. He said the state understands the burden that funeral homes are under.

“But a crisis is no excuse for the kind of behavior we witnessed at Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home, and we are holding them accountable for their actions,” he said.

CNN reached out to the funeral home on Thursday and Friday for comment on the bodies and the suspension. On Wednesday, someone who identified himself as the owner of the funeral home would not comment.

Funeral home was overwhelmed, source says

Officials on Wednesday discovered four trucks containing as many as 60 bodies outside the funeral home after someone reported fluids dripping from the vehicles, according to a law enforcement official.

The official told CNN on Thursday that bodies were being removed from the trucks.

Authorities have asked the owner to gather paperwork that would help identify the bodies.

The Department of Environmental Protection issued two summonses to the owner of the funeral home for a foul odor.

The funeral home was overwhelmed and ran out of room for bodies, which were awaiting cremation, and used the trucks for storage, a second law enforcement source said Wednesday.

At least one of the trucks was unrefrigerated, according to one law enforcement official. One source said the bodies were put on ice.

“They were like almost everyone, doing their best to cope,” one source said.

New York has been the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak for weeks, with more than 18,000 confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths, according to the city website.

New York has freezer trucks that funeral homes can use if they are overwhelmed, and the city sent one to hold the bodies, CNN affiliate WABC reported.

“Funeral directors are required to store decedents awaiting burial or other final disposition in appropriate conditions and to follow their routine infection prevention and control precautions,” the New York State Health Department said in a statement regarding the incident.

CNN’s Steve Almasy and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.