Mother distraught after crash memorial stripped bare
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.