Guilford County, NC-- Roadside memorials are a painful reminder of a life lost at that very spot. Families put them up as part of the grieving process, but do makeshift memorials do more harm than good?
New 2's Liz Crawford looked into this after a memorial was trashed by the DOT, according to the victim's grandmother, Carol Lunsford. The memorial was set up on 220 South in High Point at Exit NC 62 to remember Lynette Langley, a 17-year-old killed in a car accident a year ago. As it turns out, the DOT does have the authority to remove memorials.
There are times the Department of Transportation will remove a memorial for safety or maintenance reasons, but it's a gray area, which is why we see so many of these all over the roads.
The DOT recognizes that these roadside remembrances offer comfort. One on Brookbank Rd. in Summerfield, NC is in perfect condition after a cyclist was killed there last month. A young boy in the neighborhood initiated the memorial.
"One time, I saw a cross on the side of the road, I was like, hmm, the situation gave me an idea to make this memorial," said 10-year-old Chase Harrell.
"It would just be nice to do because you know with the family and their lost and stuff," added Harrell.
"It's just, it makes us feel better, it just gives us peace," said Sue Atkins, a neighbor in the area.
Atkins added, "I even told the family when they left that we'd try to keep some flowers on it."
The memorials are meant to honor a life and perhaps even encourage drivers to slow down or be more cautious. However, the DOT has to consider safety first, and even maintenance, like when mowers come through.
"We don't mean to be cruel, but again we understand, we want to sympathize with the family and we certainly do but it's purely a safety factor," said Mike Mills, Division Engineer with the NC Department of Transportation.
The DOT said typically they'll remove memorials on interstates and busy roads, but leave ones in the county alone. Mike Mills also said they try their best to bag up the memorial and return it to the family, but they're not perfect.
WFMY News 2, NC Department of Transportation