Sad, ugly memorial marker
May 11, 2009 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find details about a fatal accident that occurred in my (fairly small) town in 1999 and, more importantly, would it be inappropriate to put new flowers on an old, unkempt memorial marker?

I found some info. here (date, age of victim, motor vehicle vs. bicycle) but I'm curious about what happened and who it happened to at this intersection that I drive by every morning. More importantly though, the marker obviously hasn't had attention for years. It's a crude cross made of plywood, painted pink, with a very common Hispanic name and "Our Angel" stenciled in black. Looks like at one time it had some silk flowers attached, but all that is left are the spiky, plastic green stems. It's a fairly busy intersection near a high school and an elementary school, and the marker's condition disturbs me. It comes across like this 14-year-old girl was completely forgotten (but I'm assuming her family has since left the area).
posted by viva viola to Human Relations (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Google News archive search. Limit it to the year of the accident and you can probably find a local paper talking about it.

Is this it?

Police: Evidence lacking in hit and run Punta Gorda police say they don't have enough evidence to charge a man whose vehicle was involved in a girl's death.

Published on October 6, 1999, Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)

This much is known: Ashley Gamez was hit and run over last week by a Ford Explorer that had just pulled away from a stop sign. Maroon paint was found on the vehicle's front bumper and bits of clothing were retrieved from its undercarriage.

What police have had a harder time determining is just how culpable the driver, 32-year-old Joseph McElwee, was in the fatal accident.

On Tuesday Punta Gorda police said they don't have enough evidence to charge McElwee, a Port

Complete Article ($2.95)

posted by zippy at 6:06 PM on May 11, 2009

I doubt anyone would object to freshening the flowers, but I wouldn't assume that the girl has been forgotten or is not being memorialized. It seems likely she has a grave somewhere.

I don't think roadside memorials of accidents are usually maintained. Whenever I see one with fresh flowers and stuffed animals and such, it's because the accident was recent. I don't think I've ever seen one being maintained for a decade.

Anyhow, newspaper archives would be the place to look for more information. Check your local library.
posted by lore at 6:20 PM on May 11, 2009

I don't think it would be inappropriate to leave flowers. If she still has any family in the area (she may not if the site marker is unkempt, or they may just not want to go back to it), they would likely appreciate someone thinking about their daughter, whether they knew her or not.
posted by ishotjr at 6:22 PM on May 11, 2009

It probably wouldn't offend anyone, but be aware that some people/government entities warn of the dangers of placing / redecorating memorials on the roadside.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:51 PM on May 11, 2009

Response by poster: Yes, that was the accident zippy. Thank you. I bought some flowers today.
posted by viva viola at 1:17 PM on May 12, 2009

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