NEW BALTIMORE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A cross made of steel sat at the site of a fatal crash, but now the family is afraid someone may have seen the steel as easy money.
A local family built a memorial made of steel on top of a hill along Route 9W in New Baltimore nearly a decade ago. It was placed at the site of a fatal crash that took the life of their loved one.
Now, the family is devastated because the cross has gone missing.
“You’re destroying the family all over again,” Mary Miller said. “You’re digging up those feelings. You’re digging up that tragedy.”
Mary Miller’s brother, Matthew Miller, died in 2006 when a cement truck collided head on with his pick-up. Mary created the memorial to cope with the tragedy.
“It was a beautiful cross, and every year I would come and plant flowers,” she said. “And the gentleman who owns the property would weed around it.”
Mary also added some of her grandfather’s old tools because Matthew had loved carpentry ever since he was a little boy.
A few months ago, Mary said his name plate went missing, so she created a new one. She added locks and nailed the memorial to the ground. But now all that’s left is a few rocks and a gaping hole.
“You can see in the ground where they literally dug it up,” she said. “I nailed a bar into the ground. To have him so hurt in the accident, we had to have a closed casket. We never got to say goodbye to him. We never got to see him again. It’s hard to dredge up those memories and to think that some people have no respect.”
Mary said she will rebuild her brother’s memorial, but this time she will use a wooden cross and a marker.
“We’re going to have all of his family members and loved ones sign this cross, and we’re going to put it back up,” she said.
In addition to building a new memorial, Mary said she plans to reach out to police in hopes that when they drive past it, they will keep an eye on the memorial now that it’s been vandalized twice before.
After the story aired on NEWS10 ABC Tuesday night, the New York State Department of Transportation told NEWS10 it took the memorial. NEWS10 reached out to Mary, who retrieved the cross from the DOT.