Heather Black

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MDOT Removing Roadside Memorials

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.