GREENVILLE — A man is facing multiple charges after police say he drove into a Greenville cemetery under the influence of alcohol, damaging several headstones.

Diego Perez, 20, was arrested Friday after a witness reported that he had driven into a small cemetery at Buttontown and Old Vincennes roads in Floyd County, and faces preliminary charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in a manner that endangers, criminal recklessness and possession of a controlled substance.

Formal charges had not been filed as of press time; Perez has an initial hearing Thursday at 9 a.m. in Floyd County Superior Court No. 2.

Floyd County Sheriff Frank Loop reported that when Greenville Police officers arrived they witnessed Perez and another person working to change a tire on his car. Perez was arrested after Loop said he failed both the breath test at the scene and the blood alcohol test at the hospital.

The cemetery, roughly less than half an acre in size, is under the care of Greenville Trustee Mary Jo Loop, who's now looking at ways to repair the three or more headstones police say Perez hit. Though she did not confirm the dates of the damaged stones, the cemetery itself has graves starting from the 1800s and going up until 20 to 30 years ago.

Frank Loop said the damaged stones are closer to the road and are likely among the older ones.

Mary Jo Loop said she doesn't know yet if the fix will involve repairs or replacement — the stones are broken and knocked off their bases.

"They're not only knocked off their bases," the sheriff said. "They're broke and they were shoved anywhere from 10 to 20 or 30 feet."

Mary Jo Loop said the next step is to look for people to repair the stones.

"I don't think it's going to be daunting," she said. "I think it's just going to take a little time to see who can do the repairs. It can be done. We did it before."

She said several years ago a cemetery restoration group did the repairs after several headstones were vandalized. She may call on that same group again.

"They came in and did a fantastic job," she said.

Mary Jo Loop said she's not certain if there are descendants in the area related to the people buried where the stones were damaged, but said it's her duty to make sure the cemetery is taken care of.

"Even if there's not anyone around still to visit, when you think about a cemetery being damaged or vandalized, it's very disturbing," she said. "That's your ultimate resting place where your respect should be, and that's just a sad thing for that to happen."

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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