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MONROE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)-Crosses on the roadside. Wreathes in memorial to lives lost in accidents. We drive past these reminders every day. Now, the Mississippi Department of Transportation is asking family and friends to remove roadside memorials. MDOT sees the memorials as a distraction to other drivers. Torry Pucket, was heading home with her husband back on April of 2006 when a drunk driver hit their car head on at 98 miles an hour killing Torry instantly along with her unborn twins. In remembrance of her daughter, Sherrel Clark built a memorial where her daughter’s wreck occurred.

“We came out April 2011 and put up the memorial site for Torry’s five year what I call Angel-versary and I didn’t call and get permission or anything I knew there was so right of the way law and measurements. So we measured and thought we were for enough off the road,” says Sherrel Clark.

But she wasn’t. Mississippi Department of Transportation purchased additional right of way so she had to move the memorial site. And with this new announcement from MDOT there was a possibility she would have to move it again.

“The final verdict was I am seven foot inside or I guess you can say outside of the right of the way. I’m seven foot in the good so we get to stay,”says Clark.

Even though Sherrel is happy her memorial gets to stay she says her heart goes out to others who are not as lucky.

“Rips the soul out of a parent because it’s like they died all over again. Somebody had posted that roadside memorials were not the place to memorialize somebody that’s what cemeteries are for. Well just everybody don’t go to cemeteries. I come here because this is where she took her last breath,” says Clark.

“My daughter Jessica was killed there back in 2011 at the intersection and shortly after that we and some friends placed a marker up there. This cross was placed on the pole and it was not that big,” says Alan Gurley.

That cross was removed by MDOT workers. Alan Gurley says he saw no warning about the roadside memorials being removed.

“I’m one that watches Twitter, Facebook everything didn’t see anything on the news about these memorials were going to be removed,” says Gurley.

As a parent Gurley feels MDOT should have notified him before taking down his daughter’s memorial.

“We’ve had flowers taken off her grave and to me that was the same thing it was the same feeling to know that someone want taken something off of her grave,” says Gurley.

MDOT will store memorials up to three months from when they are removed.

Comment on this Story

  • Linda Star

    Why doesn’t MDOT do their job of slowing down these trucks that are speeding and killing folks, and the trucks that have debris hanging off the back, or have no working tail lights? The roadside memorials remind people to slow down and be careful at that junction. Why doesn’t Mississippi Highway Commission plan highways better so that they aren’t splitting towns in half, like what happened at Hamilton? Maybe if the highways were designed better, there would be less wrecks. Would it hurt to put in some overpasses or go around small towns instead of smack through them?

  • Ed

    This is wrong, just plain wrong. These memorials are no more of a distraction than a sign. If MDOT wants to do something to combat distracted drivers do something about the texting, loud music but take a look at the drivers next time you pass a car. Most have the seat laid back so far they have no control of the car, laid over to one side to the point they look like a passenger instead of the driver……that would be a great idea….MDOT do something good and moral…..fat chance of that.

    I feel sorry for the people who has lost loved ones and paying a last farewell only to have this happen. People need to call their reps on this one…..remember your vote does count.

  • Carol Abston

    Ditto to the above article and comments. The MDOT never asked my daughter to remove anything. She was informed by a family member that her son’s, my grandson’s, cross had been removed. Yet, the tree that his car wrapped around, is still there—too close to the highway. She received no notification, nor did she even know what had been done with the marker. Loss and devastation all over again!! A person who has never lost a child or grandchild can ever know the extreme hurt, loss, emptiness, and grief that becomes a daily, constant companion. My daughter had her son’s marker placed at the sight of his accident as a memorial to him, to honor him, to feel close to him, to do something for him. He served the state of Mississippi as a member of the Mississippi National Guard, assisting in search and rescue, transporting bodies, and security during the 2011 tornado that destroyed his hometown of Smithville. One month later, he was dead. It’s hard to believe any human being could be so insensitive to the grief and pain that the families who have lost loved ones to fatalities on the highway are feeling as a result of the way these markers were removed. I pray the people responsible never experience such pain and loss. It’s the worst possible. When my daughter received the news of the marker removal,it was as if our beloved Dustin had died all over again. Is there nothing more worthwhile for these people to do?

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