CINCINNATI -- “He was a kid at heart who loved Pokemon, music and making others feel special.”
That message on Zachary Henzerling’s memorial Facebook page carries a whole new meaning now after his loved ones discovered this week that his grave is attracting "Pokemon Go" players from around the community.
"Pokemon Go" is a popular smartphone game that gained huge popularity this week. The game uses your smartphone’s GPS to convert where you’re standing and the neighborhood around you into a fictional world filled with Pokemon. If you move around in real life while holding your phone in front of you, Pokemon will appear on your screen sitting and standing in your environment.
There are spots in the game, called "gyms," where you can train and battle the Pokemon you capture. Gyms usually pop up near landmarks and are chosen randomly by the game.
And to the surprise of Henzerling’s family, that's exactly what his grave is: A Pokemon gym.
Jennifer McKinney, Henzerling’s cousin, said she noticed there was a gym directly over his headstone when she went to catch Pokemon near his burial site at Arlington Memorial Gardens in Cincinnati this week.
“I thought, ‘How cool would it be to catch a Pokemon on his grave,’" McKinney said. “When we went there, we were walking with a map and we kept getting closer and closer, and then we were like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a gym!’
“It was right on his grave. There’s only three gyms in the entire cemetery and this cemetery is huge. What are the odds?”
Henzerling was killed in an explosion on Dec. 28, 2012 when he was treating hazardous materials at the Spring Grove Avenue facility of Environmental Enterprises Inc. His funeral services were held at Tri-County Baptist Church in West Chester Township.
Environmental Enterprises Inc. was indicted on Jan. 7, 2016 on nine counts in relation to Henzerling’s death. The indictments included involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, tampering with records, tampering with evidence and violating the terms of a solid waste license.
Pokemon Go is based off geolocation and augmented reality, requiring players to move to certain locations to catch Pokemon. The game uses location data to determine the placement of stops and gyms.
Since the launch of Pokemon Go, there has been controversy surrounding where it is appropriate to catch ‘em all. Players have taken to streets, shops, schools, cemeteries and even Holocaust memorials to capture the virtual critters.
But McKinney is thrilled people are out playing, especially near someone who loved the game so much. She even decorated his headstone with red, blue and yellow flowers to match the colors of the Pokemon Go teams.
She also nailed a note into the ground below his headstone, welcoming Pokemon Go players.
“It made us feel good, because I never thought I’d ever be able to go to his grave and actually be happy,” McKinney said.