Partly cloudy

Missing roadside memorials spark debate

  • Pattie Hansen placed small plastic flowers at the site where her daughter, Tami Lee Wilson, died in a car crash on Industrial Avenue, in Petaluma, after someone removed the larger memorial of six crosses. Wilson died in October of 2006. (The Press Democrat/ Christopher Chung)

Pattie Hansen took comfort in the five crosses that marked the spot on a Petaluma road where last year her only daughter died in a crash.

Then one day this summer, the crosses were gone.

?I sat in the car and cried,? she said.

Roadside memorials are disappearing across Sonoma County, including at the spot on Industrial Drive in Petaluma where 43-year-old Tami Wilson was killed in October when she lost control of her pick-up.

At least four memorials have been hauled away since June, including three in and near Petaluma, and a fourth in Forestville.

The removals rekindle a debate whether the personal items left behind by loved ones are appropriate expressions of grief, or maudlin, perhaps even dangerous, eyesores.

Even some victims? families are torn over the issue.

Hansen said her husband has begged her not to go to the spot where the couple?s daughter died because doing so always unhinges her.

She goes anyway.

?I told my husband that?s where she died. That?s where her soul left her body,? Hansen said.

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