DAVENPORT, Fla. - It's been just over two years since a tragic car accident on Highway US-27 claimed the life of four people and an unborn child. Shortly after the wreck, family and friends of the victims put up personalized memorials for everyone that was killed.
But now, they are being forced to take it down. If they don't, the Department of Transportation will.
"They're saying we can't have anything here," said Barbara Pandolfo, who lost her best friend, Lucero Tijerino in the crash, along with Lucero's daughter, Layla.
DOT has requested that loved ones take down all the mementos that they placed there, including teddy bears, flowers, crosses, and even mulch and rocks that they put down.
Pandolfo says several of the items have been there since the accident, but others were added earlier this month when friends and family gathered to remember the second anniversary of the crash.
"What that becomes is an issue in regards to safety with people driving on the road," said Cindy Clemmons, Spokeswoman for DOT. She says the concern isn't really about the memorial being a distraction, but more of a hazard if people were to drive off the road.
The department does allow standardized memorial markers at crash sites, but they have to be taken down after a couple years.
"We try to be very sensitive because again you're dealing with grief and this is not something we take lightly," she said.
Pandolfo says her family and friends are still grieving.
The DOT requested the personalized memorial be taken down by Friday. We were there as Pandolfo took down some of the items, but she said she couldn't bare to touch the rest.
"All down 27 is full of crosses," she said. "You go that way and there's crosses everywhere with teddy bears. So I don't understand why we have to."
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