San Francisco Chronicle

6 bodies, 154 cremains recovered from warehouse

- By Jessica Flores Reach Jessica Flores: jessica.flores@sfchronicl­; Twitter: @jesssmflor­es

The Alameda County coroner is asking for the public’s help in reuniting the remains of dozens of people with their loved ones after six bodies and the cremated remains of 154 others were recovered last month from a crematoriu­m’s warehouse in Hayward whose business license was suspended in 2018, officials said.

Oceanview Cremations had been illegally storing the dead at its warehouse, near Mission Boulevard and Berry Avenue, since 2018, said Alameda County Sheriff ’s Office spokespers­on Lt. Tya Modeste. The business had a corporatio­n and individual business license under the same name, both of which had been suspended since 2018 and 2022, respective­ly, she said.

“They were still unauthoriz­ed to store remains on the premises, however,” Modeste said, adding that remains located in the warehouse date back to 2013.

The California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau obtained an interim suspension order on Dec. 22 last year that prohibited Oceanview Cremations from practicing while formal discipline was pursued, bureau spokespers­on Peter Fournier said Monday. An accusation filed Jan. 6 to revoke Oceanview’s license is being adjudicate­d, he said.

The bureau alerted the coroner of the license suspension on Feb. 28, Modeste said.

“Part of the reason for the suspension was due to complaints about lack of service/follow-up,” said Modeste. She directed The

Chronicle to the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau for more informatio­n, but Fournier said the agency cannot comment on pending disciplina­ry matters. Phone calls to Oceanview Cremations were not answered Monday afternoon.

The coroner and Grissom’s Chapel & Mortuary, a county-contracted funeral home, began recovering the six bodies and 154 cremated remains on March 1.

Of the six bodies, five came from Alameda County, and their families have been notified. One came from Sonoma County and remains unidentifi­ed because Robert Smith, the owner of Oceanview Cremations, was unable to “produce any viable informatio­n about the location of death or the next of kin,” officials said.

As of Monday, families had confirmed the identities of six of the 154 people whose remains were cremated, Modeste said, and have agreed to pick them up. As for the rest, “We are working to locate the next of kin across 15 counties,” she said.

“Family members indicated that after their calls to Oceanview Cremations’ owner, Robert Smith, went unanswered, they believed their loved ones had been cremated or scattered at sea as requested,” the Sheriff ’s Office said.

The coroner and Grissom’s Mortuary created a list of the number of bodies sent from different counties, which include all nine counties of the Bay Area and other parts of Northern California.

If you or someone you know hired Oceanview Cremations with final arrangemen­ts between 2013 and 2022, officials ask that you contact the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau at 510-382-3000.

• Alameda County: 64

• Contra Costa County: 10

• Fresno County: 1

• Marin County: 9

• Napa County: 2

• Placer County: 1

• Sacramento County: 1

• Stanislaus County: 2

• San Francisco: 23

• San Joaquin County: 3

• San Mateo County: 15

• Santa Clara County: 9

• Santa Cruz County: 4

• Solano County: 2

• Sonoma County: 8

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