Roadside Memorials Understood but Not Encouraged
They are public displays of sympathy and mourning at locations of sudden or tragic death on our roads and highways.
Roadside memorials of flowers, candles, balloons and other items are often found at these locations across the Central Coast.
While the outpouring of emotion and sentiment is understood by local authorities, its not encouraged.
Flowers, cards and notes of rememberance are placed near the scene of a deadly accident on Highway 246 in Santa Ynez.
Recently retired Santa Ynez High School teacher Linda Wall died from injuries she suffered after the CHP says she was rear-ended at high speed by 37 year old Rebecca Sandoval at the traffic light at Casino Drive.
Sandoval has since been charged with murder and other DUI-related charges.
There are claims by some in the community that flowers left at the Linda Wall roadside memorial have been removed.
A spokesperson for the nearby Chumash Hotel and Casino says no one from that property removed any of the flowers or prevented anyone from leaving flowers or other items at the memorial site.
"Most people understand the tragic circumstances around these accidents and are respectful of the memorials, certainly we are, the CHP is and law enforcement is", says Colin Jones with Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs.
Jones says Caltrans policy is to allow for an informal grace period for roadside memorials that are in the public right of way of roads and highways but the state agency will eventually have them removed.
"Our hearts definitely go out to the families who've lost loved ones and we understand the sentiment", Jones says, "in this case our policy is to not allow the placement of these informal roadside memorials along the sides of highways and roads and the main reason for that is safety", Jones says, "because there is traffic going along there and we want to avoid another accident with someone out there who may be placing themselves in harms way."
Caltrans has a memorial sign program for families and friends of loved ones killed on roads and highways.
"That was created specifically for persons killed in accidents caused by drunk drivers", Jones says, "its a sign that says please don't drink and drive, and then it says "in memory of" the person who was killed on the highways."
Jones says Caltrans keeps items removed from roadside memorials for up to 30 days at its nearest maintenance yards while it tries to notify family members about the items collected.
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