CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- James Olbert is still upset about the damage done to his father's grave by a bulldozer that plowed through Crystal Block Cemetery in 2004.
The cemetery is near Sarah Ann, a historic coal town that was home to many black miners near the Logan-Mingo County border.
In 2004 a bulldozer owned by General Pipeline Construction was building a road in southern Logan County to haul pipelines to a natural gas drilling site for Equitable Production Co., now the EQT Corp. The bulldozer drove right through the cemetery. It dislodged Daniel Olbert's headstone, so his final resting place is no longer known.
James Olbert lives in Holden today and was raised on Crystal Block Hollow. He was the first one who saw the damage to the cemetery.
"I discovered what happened. In 2004, we had a family reunion. I rented a bus. We went up there and saw what happened. It was very, very upsetting," Olbert said. "Regardless of who was buried there -- whether they were black or white -- something like this should never have happened. It is very disturbing. It caused a lot of grief."
Last October, a Logan County jury ruled General Pipeline and EQT must pay $900,000 in damages to Olbert and 13 other people who filed a lawsuit in 2006. The damages include $700,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages.
The jury also required the companies to pay $14,000 to help restore the cemetery.
"My dad was buried there," Olbert said. "He worked in the mines. He told me, 'If there is any way possible, stay out of the mines.'"
Olbert followed his father's advice. He drove school buses in Ohio for many years before he returned to West Virginia and worked as a custodian for the Logan County Board of Education.
"My father's headstone wasn't destroyed, but it was moved. So we really don't know where he is located right now," Olbert said.
"When I was growing up, we were taught not to ever step on a grave, but to walk around it. Then they have the nerve to show so much disrespect with that bulldozer.
"Jerry Newsome, who was a World War II veteran, was also buried up there in Crystal Block Cemetery. His grave was destroyed. You go out and fight for your country and something like this happens. That really disturbed me.
On July 26, former Supreme Court Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard, serving as a "senior status judge," turned down post-trial motions filed by General Pipeline and EQT to repeal the verdict in the case.