A Jacksonville family is upset after transportation officials removed decorations on a memorial marker for their loved one who was killed on the Buckman Bridge.
Stephanie Robinson, 22, died after she went down on the Buckman Bridge in May 2016 when something caused her to Crash her Motorcycle.
Family said Robinson was going to a memorial ride for another motorcyclist when she swerved on the bridge to avoid being hit by a car.
Florida Department of Transportation officials placed a memorial marker at the crash site a few months after Robinson’s death.
Family and friends placed a cross in the ground near the memorial and attached a wooden heart with her last name across it on the FDOT marker.
A few months later, the family said it appeared someone broke the wooden heart in half, so Robinson’s father made a thick metal heart and attached it to the pole.
A few weeks ago, Robinson’s sister, Britani Norman, said she got a call from a friend, who said something was wrong with her marker.
The pole and marker sign were bent and there were marks across the metal heart, she said.
After contacting officials, Norman said the sign was repaired and the heart was reattached to the pole.
Norman said she got an email from FDOT a few weeks later saying the decor on her sister’s memorial was an issue.
Family said when they went to remove the cross and heart from the memorial, it was no longer there.
FDOT told Action News Jax that the decorations on the memorial marker were deemed a safety issue and had to be immediately removed.
“If struck by a vehicle this may have caused a severe injury or worse to another person,” FDOT spokesperson Tracy Hisler-Pace said. “This structure also weighed approximately 80 pounds. The memorial markers manufactured by FDOT are approximately one pound (not including pole) and are constructed to collapse if involved in a collision. FDOT’s main priority is always safety.”
An email apparently from FDOT said the decorations would be stored at a maintenance yard for 30 days.
Norman said she feels her family is being singled out because of complaints about damage to her sister’s memorial.
“It has been there with a heart on it for a year and some months, and now it’s an issue all of a sudden,” Norman said. “You drive around Jax and there are plenty of decorated memorials and their stuff is still there so, why my sister’s marker?”
FDOT officials said they will be looking at the policy in a couple of weeks to determine if there’s anything they can do better.
Right now, the agency allows the “drive safely” signs on poles, which they provide, but officials say they do allow families to add to them to an extent.
FDOT’s issue with Robinson’s memorial came about after someone hit it and then it was replaced with a larger display, a spokesperson.