Me­mo­rial cross taken

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By JESSICA MAD­DOCK

The for­mer girl­friend of a teenager hit and killed by a car in a New Year tragedy is up­set his road­side me­mo­rial has been partly re­moved. Dunedin teenager Dion Wells was cel­e­brat­ing new year in Wanaka with his girl­friend, Rose Jamie- son, and friends when he was hit by a car and killed early on Jan­uary 1, 2001. Ms Jamieson, then 18, was among those who cre­ated a me­mo­rial be­side State High­way 84, near the car park for the Mt Iron track. They laid a drift­wood cross to re­flect the 19-year-old’s love of surf­ing, left pieces of schist rock with mes­sages writ­ten on them, and Mr Wells’ Kings High School jersey, but they were soon re­moved. They re­placed the items with a white cross, a cop­per flower, drift­wood and a mound of rocks, which they vis­ited reg­u­larly un­til the cross was also re­moved a few weeks ago. ‘‘Young peo­ple put their hearts on [the schist] and put them there for a very, very dear friend. It stirs it up a lot. It makes it harder to get over,’’ she said. Some of those friends had stum­bled upon the crash on the night and Ms Jamieson was asked

to iden­tify the body. ‘‘It makes it eas­ier, hav­ing some­thing nice there. It hurts, the thought of go­ing past and see­ing noth­ing, like it never hap­pened." Even worse for fam­ily and friends, the 29-year-old who hit Mr Wells was never con­victed, de­spite fail­ing a breath test, be­cause the re­sults were found to have been il­le­gally gath­ered. Since the re­moval of the cross Ms Jamieson has con­tacted the Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil and was ad­vised it was an NZ Trans­port Agency mat­ter be­cause it was out­side the round­about at the en­trance to Wanaka. How­ever, the agency told her it was a coun­cil is­sue, be­cause it was in an 80kmh zone, not the open road. The agency’s Cen­tral Otago area man­ager, John Jarvis, said this week the agency would not have re­moved any part of the me­mo­rial with­out the fam­ily’s knowl­edge. He wrote to and tele­phoned Mr Wells’ fam­ily in 2011 but had not heard from them since. It was agency pol­icy to con­tact fam­i­lies of crash vic­tims about re­mov­ing road­side memo­ri­als once 10 years had passed. They were usu­ally only erected on ru­ral high­ways and the stretch of road where Mr Wells was killed was now ur­ban. Road im­prove­ments were an­other trig­ger for the re­moval of memo­ri­als. This stretch of road had been widened since the crash and, on the rec­om­men­da­tion of

Wanaka woman Rose Jamieson is an­gry a road­side me­mo­rial for her for­mer boyfriend, Dion Wells, who was hit and killed by a car nearly 13 years ago, has been tam­pered with and items taken. the coroner, a foot­path had been built, light­ing in­stalled and the speed limit re­duced to 80kmh. Coun­cil staff con­tacted by the Mir­ror de­clined to comment at this stage be­cause they were not aware of the is­sue. Ms Jamieson said she and Mr Wells’ fam­ily were dis­cussing a per­ma­nent me­mo­rial, such as a tree, or a piece of mar­ble or wood with a plaque, which she hoped the au­thor­i­ties would agree to. "It’s been 13 years but here I am, still fight­ing for the boy. I want him to be re­spected. He was such an awe­some dude, just the kind­est guy. I don’t think he deserves this.’’

Re­mem­ber­ing him:

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.