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Archive for Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Family, friends maintain memorial cross on Sixth Street years after fatal motorcycle crash

A cross marks the spot on Sixth Street where an accident killed motorcyclist Matthew Thompson in 2004.

A cross marks the spot on Sixth Street where an accident killed motorcyclist Matthew Thompson in 2004.

June 15, 2011

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When friends and family of Matthew Thompson, a Lawrence man killed in a November 2004 motorcycle accident, decided to place a cross at a spot near where he was killed — in front of Graystone Apartments, 2512 W. Sixth St. — they wanted it to last.

So, after talking with city officials, they placed an iron cross four-feet deep in cement.

And more than six years later, the cross still stands, and friends frequently change the flowers and decorate the cross.

“He meant a lot to us,” said Beverly Turpin, who, along with her twin sister, Barbara Pine, keep the cross up to date. Seasonally, they change decorations at the site.

The women came to know Thompson well as he dated Beverly’s daughter, Jessica Snow, for a couple of years.

There’s also usually a gathering of friends at the site near Christmas, said Thompson’s sister, Amy Cox.

“That was his favorite holiday,” she said.

Memorial crosses dot roadways across the state, said Kimberly Qualls, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Transportation. Qualls said the state doesn’t have a policy regarding the roadside memorials. The agency also doesn’t keep track of the number or memorials.

Thompson’s cross is technically on city-maintained property near the sidewalk. City officials have received no complaints, said Megan Gilliland, city spokeswoman.

Turpin said she’s pleased the cross has remained, as it helps her “keep remembering (Thompson).”

Comments

Kevin Kohls 3 years, 6 months ago

While I feel for the family and their mourning, I have never understood why anyone would want to mark the spot where someone they loved died. If you want to put flowers, markers or gather to remember, that's what a gravestrone and cemetary are for. Otherwise, leaving something where that person was killed only keeps the depressing feelings around. Please stop.

boxers_or_briefs 3 years, 6 months ago

I agree 100%. A car almost swerved into me while looking at the tribute.

bethann 3 years, 6 months ago

You don't need to understand it. You need to respect it. Your way is not the only way, as evidenced by differing practices among cultures.

dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

It was put there to remind people to pay more attention when driving... thats it period.. My brother was lost for this very reason.. my god bless you and your family

sreally 3 years, 6 months ago

God willing, you will never know whether you would do this or not. Grieving is a process that is different for everyone. Is someones 5 year olds sons ashes on their mantle depressing? Maybe it is what keeps them going!

bethann 3 years, 6 months ago

Ditto. I lost my son and I agree with you.

Abbie Abasolo 3 years, 4 months ago

Listen it is depressing that the fact I will never see my cousin again and that cross is not depressing it is a place where his friends can go to remember him. Well I am not sure you do feel for his friends and family becasue they are the ones who asked it to be put there to remember him. So next time you drive by don't look.

Kent Fisher 3 years, 6 months ago

And let's hope you never have to experience this tragedy. Until you do...

Scattered 3 years, 6 months ago

I am in Louisiana, and the abundance of crosses is sobering. I drove on a highway with groups of five and six at a time. I think they help to remind us of how fragile and precious life is. Hopefully they will help those who need it, to SLOW down and be more cautious.

tinafey 3 years, 6 months ago

I completely agree with"teacherboy" STOP IT...that is honoring how and where they died not where they are now or how they LIVED....! Others do not want to know where folks died that is just morbid. Grieve another, more PRIVATE way Please! "The city should ban these they are an eyesore"

bethann 3 years, 6 months ago

One issue is whether or not the cross with flowers is a roadway hazard - personally I don't think it is, but if so then it should be removed. If it's not a traffic hazard and it helps his family and friends then let it be. If it offends your sensibilities then look the other way.

A separate issue is saying it "is just morbid. Grieve another, more private way." It is most definitely not 's job to tell anyone how to grieve. As the parent of a young adult who died tragically early also I believe that we live in a society that undervalues grieving. I would not wish the experience on anyone and I would find the compassion to respect others' choices. People in that predicament need understanding and support not criticism.

dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

Thank you... my brothers cross was put there to help save someones life not to remember his death. Although his friends have told me that it helps them cause his grave his 3 hours away from Lawrence and this helps them. My heart goes out to you and your family for you lose. god bless

Abbie Abasolo 3 years, 4 months ago

It's not a Hazard I went to go see it since I never made it up there to get to see my cousin to be honest most would probably never really rpay attention who didn't know what happen that night, but he was a good guy and did a lot of things I didn't even know about. If it wasn't in the news you would never know. so keep your rude comments about it being morbid it is sad and a reminder that this could have never happen if someone was paying attention. Think about that...

sreally 3 years, 6 months ago

So are crosses all together morbid to you? I am not religious, but a cross does stand for Jesus death. So are all crosses morbid or just the ones that bother YOU?!

Frightwig 3 years, 6 months ago

I have no issue with roadside memorials, but this raises an interesting question: Would the city allow me to erect a Star of David on the side of the road as a memorial to my friend who died in a car accident? What about a star and crescent symbol for a Muslim student that may have been hit by a car while crossing the street? I'm guessing that the city would allow it, but I think it might upset some people.

dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

I feel that you should put whatever symbol out that you want ,who cares what others think, if they dont like they dont have to look... I will put flowers on it when I put them on my brothers cross

SpiritTat 3 years, 6 months ago

Good question, Frightwig ~ veeery good indeed

Namaste!

;)

thewickedsire 3 years, 6 months ago

Matt was one of my best friends for those who didn't know him he would give his shirt off his back to anyone who needed it. Matt gave back to his community and took part in fundraising for families with low incomes to me Matt was a saint. This cross has nothing to do with anyone's religious beliefs because Matt has friends who often visit his cross who are Jewish, Pagan, Muslim and Christian. We come to his cross because he is not buried in Lawrence so we do not have any other place to gather and share our stories. We his Family and friends do not this this small area of remembrance as morbid and we do celebrate his memory by gathering at his cross every Christmas. Jess and her family do a great job keeping it decorated and clean. I am not sure why u think it is a distraction it sits there unlike some signs in Lawrence that flash show video and all of that. I thank the city for allowing us this small remembrance where his friends and family can come and reconnect. I hope that your family doesn't suffer the same tragic loss that ours did or maybe it would be you writing this response. RIP Matt NEVER FORGOTTEN ALWAYS LOVED

bethann 3 years, 6 months ago

I am so glad this cross with flowers helps you. I lost my young adult son and I know that it is so important for survivors to honor someone's memory in a way that is meaningful to them. Peace to you and to Matt's family and extended circle of friends.

dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

Thank you.. may you find peace and comfort for the lose of your son... Matthew was my younger brother, the cross was actually placed to help others and hopefully remind them to pay more attention when driving.. I cant believe a story causes so much controversy. It was cemented so it wouldnt get pulled out or damaged..

bethann 3 years, 6 months ago

We have to accept that many people simply don't get what this experience is like and let it go.

Remember: "The cracks in a broken heart are meant to let the light shine through."

dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

Oh I know, their comments just roll off... I pray that nobody ever has to experience such a traggedy.. My heart is smiling cause I know he is forever with my always..

impska 3 years, 6 months ago

You know, it's funny, I always assumed that when someone ran their car into a tree, it was the driver's fault - but you've put it all into perspective. Clearly, it's the tree's fault. And the city's fault for planting that tree! How dare they endanger me with their poles, trees and pedestrian-encouraging sidewalks! What if I'm injured while I drive into these objects?!

thewickedsire 3 years, 6 months ago

the person who was driving needs to be asked why they where driving thru the lawn and needs to be checked for drunk driving if a small cross not even bumper high wrecks a car and kills someone

thewickedsire 3 years, 6 months ago

it's not steel read the article again and how is this invole the post office I think you have had enough beer for the night lol

dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

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bethann 3 years, 6 months ago

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dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

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dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

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bethann 3 years, 6 months ago

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dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

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Chelsea Kapfer 3 years, 6 months ago

you people will always find something to complain about. If a simple white cross is a "distraction" while driving, then what is a 20 foot tall animated billboard? Give it a rest, and go hug your kids.

dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

This cross was put there to REMIND drivers to PAY ATTENTION to others while driving, be more cautious... thats all.. Everyone has their own way of grieving and ways to pay special tribute as I have found by the flowers that have been put there by anonymous people. I hope my brothers cross helps save someones life. My god bless you and your families to keep you safe while your driving. Just live life and enjoy, dont worry about what others do.

bethann 3 years, 6 months ago

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dancer73 3 years, 6 months ago

just let it go... hes a bike rider himself, he should understand I had his best interest at heart also... hope the cross makes people pay attention for him when he rides.. the only person he's punching is himself...

rumor_man 3 years, 6 months ago

I now close my eyes whenever I drive by there.

rumor_man 3 years, 6 months ago

but seriously...it seems to me that all this memorial does is reopen the wounds left by the deceased.

bethann 3 years, 6 months ago

the wound never closes - it just gets smaller

ivalueamerica 3 years, 6 months ago

In Peru, and much of Latin America, roadside memorials are big business with little concrete churches with solar powered lights and all sorts of things. They are often a sobering reminder of the hazards of driving. However, I would not want one on my property and I can support serious limitations on where they can be placed

grammaddy 3 years, 6 months ago

A neighbor lost their 5-year-old son on the corner by our house almost 6 years ago. There was a "mini-memorial" there for a couple years. I thought it was kind of morbid after a while, but now I wish it was still there. I've seen people fly by that spot and wonder when a tragedy like that will strike again. At least when the memorial was there, folks tended to slow down a bit. Now I hope they lose their oil pans on the dip in the road at the next corner.Slow down, people. Children live and play in this neighborhood!!

Abbie Abasolo 3 years, 4 months ago

Wow I read this a while back and was so upset by the way people were griping about the cross that was put in front of the Apartment Complex and how they thought it was morbid. Well I waited to post my comments to you people until I was calm, because I was angry at you. What is so morbid that my cousins friends and family that still live there want to remember him although I love the fact that he must have touched many lives their for them to keep it up all these years. Well not that it's any of your business or it really matters Matthew was burried in another place and most of us did not make it to the graveside. I actually went recently and seen the cross and was the hardest thing next to getting that phone call and my dad telling me that someone had taken my cousin Matthew away from our family. I was actually going to visit him after I had my twins. Well they were early and my son had some complications I kept thinking I promised him that I would come see him after they were born. He came down for a visit and I told him I couldn't wait to come. who knew 3 months later he would be gone. You have no idea what a great guy he was and how much we all miss him. You know that saying if you don't have nothing nice to say then don't say anything at all.

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