Mother dis­traught after crash memorial stripped bare

Manawatu Standard - - NEWS - LUCY SWINNEN

Heather Si­mon­sen drives three times a day to the memorial site where her two sons and their friend died in a hor­rific car crash.

‘‘I go down there and I talk to my boys, I talk to them and give them a kiss.’’

But on Fri­day morn­ing, when Si­mon­sen vis­ited the site on Cam­bridge St in Levin, it had been com­pletely stripped bare.

Photos, flow­ers, notes writ­ten by friends and loved ones: All gone.

‘‘I just about died,’’ Si­mon­sen said. ‘‘I am just dis­traught – ab­so­lutely dis­traught.’’

Si­mon­sen’s sons Jesse Hayne and Shand Cot­grove, and their friend Ja­cob Gray, were killed when their car smashed into a parked truck in the early hours of a Sun­day morn­ing in late July and burst into flames.

Wide­spread grief gripped the Porirua com­mu­nity fol­low­ing the deaths. All three were orig­i­nally from Porirua, and for­mer stu­dents at Aotea Col­lege.

After the crash, the site on Cam­bridge St be­came a memorial. A col­lec­tion of flow­ers, can­dles, notes to the boys and photos adorned the tele­graph pole, and pro­vided a place to re­mem­ber the men.

It meant ev­ery­thing Si­mon­sen. to

‘‘It is some­where I can go and sit – there is a park bench ... it is re­ally, re­ally sig­nif­i­cant to me.’’

Now fam­ily and friends just want the most per­sonal, ir­re­place­able items, such as photos of Shand Cot­grove and his young son, re­turned.

A fam­ily friend alerted Si­mon­sen that the pole had been stripped after driv­ing past on Fri­day morn­ing.

Si­mon­sen said she con­tacted Horowhenua District Coun­cil, and was told its staff did not clear the memorial. Neigh­bours in the area also had no idea about how or why the items had been re­moved.

The last time Si­mon­sen vis­ited the site was on Thursday evening, when she added a new me­mento.

‘‘I bought a lit­tle bird you put in pot plants – its wings move in the wind. I re­mem­ber say­ing to my boys, you fly and fly high.’’

* Any­one who has the memorial photos and items, or knows where they are, is asked to re­turn them in a se­cure bag to the site, or fol­low in­struc­tions left at the site.

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