VERNON - A grieving man is shocked and upset after finding a roadside memorial for two young women knocked over and damaged in Vernon.
The colourful memorial on Highway 97 just before the overpass coming into Vernon is made up of flowers and crosses in remembrance of Kayla Cartwright, 26, and Chantal Bazin, 22, who died last summer.
Clifford Smith, who describes himself as a father figure to Chantal, says family and friends visit the site often.
“It’s the way we’re healing,” Smith says.
But just a few months after the accident, he says the memorial started getting knocked over and damaged by unknown individuals. Loved ones keep fixing it up, but the damage has been repeated numerous times, Smith says.
“It’s been going on for a year. Enough is enough,” he says.
He says the crosses are staked securely into the ground and does not believe weather is causing the memorial to be left in disarray. He says footprints can be found around the memorial, and adds that flowers and decorations are strewn around the site.
According to the Ministry of Transportation, roadside memorials are permitted near accident sites out of respect for grieving families and friends, so it’s doubtful the crosses were knocked over or removed by highway workers.
For Smith, that leaves the upsetting possibility that a member of the public intentionally tampered with the memorial.
“It just makes me mad that people would do that kind of stuff,” Smith says. “We’re trying to go on with our lives but when you go up and see that kind of stuff it really hurts.”
He’s hoping to make people realize how much the memorial means to Kayla and Chantal’s friends and family.
“Have a little bit of respect for other people,” he says.
— This story was updated at 1:07 p.m. July 29, 2016 to correct the relationship between Clifford Smith and Chantal Bazin.
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