Roadside memorial reminds drivers to be careful
- Written by Crystal Simmons
Fresh flowers, a scarred tree and a plaque labeled “Shane H.,” tell a familiar story. The memorial to Shane, located at 6920 FM 1960, notes the passing of a car accident victim. Drivers passing the memorial may not have known Shane, but most do know the colorful memorial indicates a death occurred. The memorial is for Shane Alan Hawk, 18, who died May 22 in an automobile accident. Those who knew Hawk said he loved hunting, fishing, riding his skateboard and training to be a high voltage lineman. Hawk’s memorial consists of a simple white cross surrounded by memorabilia from his life, including an orange striped polo shirt, fishing poles, sunglasses and song lyrics to The Door’s “Been Down So Long.” According the Atascocita Fire Department, Hawk lost control of his car, collided with a tree and died at 1:45 a.m. Not only does the memorial signal that Hawk’s family and friends miss him, but it also serves as a warning to other drivers. Not everyone agrees roadside memorials should be allowed. Some claim it violates the separation of church and state while others say improperly maintained memorials are an eyesore. Because memorials are controversial, regulatory agencies have homogenized roadside markers in some states and banned them in others. State rules governing roadside memorials range from making it illegal to disturb memorials in New Mexico to banning them in Florida, Colorado and Oklahoma. In Texas, family members can buy a standard marker from TxDOT or leave a homemade one that must meet the following criteria to be approved: • Markers should be no more than 30 inches high or 18 inches wide. • They should be placed in a no-mow area that will not obstruct traffic. • Markers should be simple so they will not distract motorists. • Engraved plaques may include the victim’s name, date of birth and date of death. • Markers cannot say that the death was caused by a drunk driver without providing proof to TxDOT. • Markers should not be placed in front of developed property without the owner’s written permission. • Markers should be made of plastic or wood and can’t have a concrete base. • The family must submit a letter to TxDOT requesting the marker with a copy of the accident report or a death certificate. For more information regarding roadside memorials, contact the nearest TxDOT district office. Photo: Friends and family leave memorabilia at Shane Hawk’s memorial.