"As the mother's coffin was being raised to the lakkian, suddenly the ladder shifted and collapsed, the coffin fell and hit the victim."
One tragedy turned into two during a funeral on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on June 15. Local man Samen Kondorura, 40, was mourning the loss of his mother, Berta, when he too was killed after her coffin fell on him.
In the middle of his mother’s funeral, held in the Parinding valley of the North Toraja district, Kondorura and several other pallbearers were carrying the coffin up a bamboo ladder onto a lakkian, a decorated tower where the deceased are placed in traditional Torajan services before the funeral rites take place. While others then prepared the table atop the lakkian where the coffin would be placed, the pallbearers paused for a moment to wait.
Then, according to Agence France-Presse via The Guardian, one of the pallbearers lost his footing, causing the ladder to slip and collapse. As the men tumbled to the ground, the coffin of Kondorura’s mother fell out of their hands and crushed him.
“As the mother’s coffin was being raised to the lakkian, suddenly the ladder shifted and collapsed, the coffin fell and hit the victim,” said local police chief Julianto Sirait.
The funeral’s dozens of attendees then rushed horrified and screaming to provide aid to the victim. It remains unclear where precisely the coffin struck Kondurura, but he wasn’t killed immediately by his injuries, instead dying later that day in the hospital.
Sirait said that the accident occurred because the ladder wasn’t properly reinforced. However, the family has decided not to press any charges.
Kondorura’s body is now resting alongside that of his mother.
Despite Kondorura’s death, Torajan funerals are traditionally spirited, days-long affairs meant to celebrate life more so than to mourn death. Participants will join together for days of music and dancing in what may seem like more of a going away party than a funeral as most Westerners know it.