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Deacon sues L.A. Archdiocese after fall into 6-foot grave

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A church deacon who said he tumbled into a "dark and muddy" grave during a funeral service is suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Alfonso Valles alleged in the legal claim that he suffered a broken arm and other injuries when he landed at the bottom of a 6-foot grave at the San Gabriel Mission cemetery.

Valles was standing on top of a platform during the summer of 2012 at the San Gabriel Mission cemetery when, “without any warning whatsoever,” the platform collapsed, according to court documents filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.   

Valles is seeking unspecified damages from both the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mission.

In a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said Valles actually “slipped and fell."

“Personnel watching the service assisted him and he completed the service,” the statement said. “Since then, it has been treated as an accident claim. Our insurer has been working with the deacon to resolve the matter."

Valles’ attorney did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

But in the complaint, attorney Alejandro Becerra said that after Valles hit bottom, he also suffered from the “immediate fear of being crushed by a 1,000-pound vault.”

The complaint does not suggest the deacon was crushed, however.

The whole ordeal has “caused and continues to cause [Valles] great mental, physical and nervous pain and suffering,” the complaint says.  

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matt.stevens@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattStevensLAT

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