A grieving mother was forced to remove the makeshift memorial that sprang up around the tree where her son died 48 hours after a car crash.
The spot had become a place for family and friends to say goodbye to 19-year-old Luis Adrian Torres, who died when his car slammed into the tree. Loved ones left candles, cards, and other mementos at the scene near the 405 Freeway in Costa Mesa, Calif. Just a few days after the incident, Torres' mother Monica Soto was told by an unidentified woman that the spot was private property and needed to be cleaned up.
"I never imagined that somebody would be so heartless," Soto told CBS Los Angeles.
The spot is near a gated community, but The LA Times reported that both the homeowner's association board and the property managers have denied asking Soto to remove the memorial. Soto and her family removed as many of the items as they could and reassembled the memorial in their garage.
A mom in Lincoln, Neb., was angered earlier this month when her daughter's memorial was removed. And another for a teen in Rocky Butte, Ore., disappeared earlier this month.
Roadside memorials often cause controversy. They often pop up in areas that are unsafe for pedestrians, and can irritate people who didn't know the victim. The ACLU told Boston.com that memorials are legal provided they are set up in traditional public forums, like public parks or squares. The side of the road is not a traditional public area.