Sunday, August 12, 2007

Now Ashley's Memorial Is Gone, Too


A couple people asked me to look into the disappearance of some roadside crosses, including those that were at Petaluma's Adobe Road and East Washington Street, where a crash killed four teens in 2005.

"I commute from Sonoma to Rohnert Park each day and there used to be 15 or more roadside crosses," Debbie Wallman said.

"About a month ago all but three disappeared. Is the county taking them down?"

In Debbie's mind, the crosses did more than honor people who died at those spots.

"They reminded you to watch out for reckless drivers and drunk drivers, don't drive when you are tired, don't speed, don't make bad driving decisions and don't drive after you have been drinking."

I started to do some checking. A county roads employee told me his department isn't out clearing memorials from the shoulders.

Then I heard from some Forestville people heartsick over what's happened to a memorial at the spot alongside Forest Hills Road where 18-year-old Ashley Morse collapsed and died in July.

One morning, friends of Ashley said, the photos, cards, candles and other elements of the memorial were gone. "Every single thing, even the candle wax that had dripped on the ground," said friend Jamie Dwelley.

Jamie said she was going to give the items to Ashley's parents soon, once a bench is placed at the spot.

Perhaps someone thought the memorial had been there long enough and that removing it was the right thing to do. If so, Jamie wishes he'd asked first.

Just now it's hard to know what to make of the displaced crosses.