Vandals deface Temple Terrace Memorial to lost children at Riverside Park

Angel of Hope Memorial located in Riverside Park

TAMPA - Police are looking for vandals that targeted a memorial for lost children in Temple Terrace.

"She does bring a lot of peace when you're sitting there. The location of this park is so beautiful,” said Traci Cooley.

There is a Temple Terrace park off South Riverhills Drive where peace and hope live.

"She's not about the sadness and the loss that we all experienced,” said Cooley.

The park also makes loss a little easier for Mom Traci Cooley.

"This isn't just a statue. It's emotional,” she said.

The Angel of Hope memorial is small like a child, with wings and looks down over bricks etched with names.

Malena Rose Cooley’s name is on several of those bricks—a two year old she lost in a drowning accident.

"We're coming up on that season of the anniversary of our daughter's death and it just hit me so hard,” said Cooley.

Vandals spray painted their Angel of Hope. The damage was discovered this week.

"It's on the back of this wing,” said Cooley as she showed us the smiley face painted in white.

In the past four years, the Angel for Hope Committee has paid to replace defaced plaques and broken lights—more than $2,500 worth of vandalism.

"It's like a slap in the face,” said sister Gina Casal.

This time the vandals tarnished their loved ones’ memories including Casal’s little brother, Nathan Patet, who died in an accident as a toddler.

"I want support from the city and the supporters who are coming and walking through the park. I want them to kind of help keep eyes out and contact the non-emergency number for the Temple Terrace Police,” said Casal.

A call that may restore these women’s peace.

If you have any information about the vandalism, please call 813-989-7110.

The Angel of Hope Committee has a recruitment meeting on August 25th at 7PM at the Tampa Street Café 2108 North Tampa Street in Tampa.


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