SARASOTA, Fla. — In February, Katarina Huffman died after losing control of her Ford Mustang on University Parkway in Sarasota. In November, the family installed the memorial plaque near the crash site in her honor.
The family planned a trip to the memorial for a candle-light vigil on Christmas, they discovered it was destroyed. "I couldn't believe on Christmas somebody would destroy my daughter's memorial," said her mom through tears.
Katarina's pictures and Hawaiian Leis were scattered on the ground, and a hand-made wooden plaque displaying her name was taken.
"It looked like someone took a hammer to it and took it," said mother Lorraine Dickinson. "There was wood laying on the floor. The pictures were all pulled off the tree, laying in the dirt."
Katarina's father, Jeffrey Dickinson, said the plaque is about 30 pounds and was heavily re-enforced. The family does not believe the city took the memorial down for code violations.
"There's no way you could actually get it out without putting some time and effort into it," he said.
The devastated family is offering a reward for anyone who returns the plaque, and asks for anyone with information about it's whereabouts to come forward. The family's contact information is on the back of the plaque.
This year marks the family's first Christmas without Katarina. The 20-year-old graduated as an EMT days before she passed away. Katarina was a pageant queen, model, and mermaid actress, posing as a mermaid for photo shoots and parties. She is known for her service to the elderly and children, and her artistic abilities.
There was also another memorial placed out on the median.
Dickinson said they contacted the the Florida Highway Patrol to find out who removed the memorial.
The family hasn't determined the exact amount the reward money will be.