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2012-01-16 at 17:29

Memorial scaled back

By Leith Dunick,
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Brenda Veneruzzo says she was devastated to see a memorial to her daughter Jasmine along the Twin City Crossroad has been torn apart.

And it now appears the Ministry of Transportation is responsible.

Jasmine Veneruzzo died in December 2008, the result of a car crash, and since then the memorial has grown from a cross to include a Christmas tree bought by Jasmine’s grandmother, three big butterflies, flowers, solar lights and an engraved star.

But much of that memorial has been removed, which Brenda Veneruzzo only found out as she drove past the memorial on Saturday.

“To my beautiful Jasmine … I went down to your memorials site to find your cross broken in half and everything taken, including the Christmas tree that Grandma got for you three years (ago) and the star that your sister got engraved and placed on the tree on Christmas Day,” Veneruzzo wrote on a Facebook memorial page to her daughter.

“I don’t have the heart to tell your Grandma what someone did. I cried and though ‘who would ever do this and who would break a cross in half?’ The only thing they didn’t take was your angel, as it is cemented in. I love and miss you every second.”

An MTO spokeswoman confirmed on Monday ministry workers have removed some of the display for safety reasons.

"From time to time, individuals place flowers, crosses, signs and other memorial displays at the scene of a collision.  We fully appreciate the importance of memorial displays and are respectful of the intention," said MTO spokeswoman Annemarie Piscopo in an email response.

"It’s also important to ensure that all memorials placed within the provincial right-of-way are consistent with our responsibility to provide and maintain a safe provincial highway system.  This memorial display has been carefully scaled down to ensure minimal distraction to drivers, and brought to a nearby patrol yard for safekeeping."

Reaction on Facebook, when it was unsure of the culprit, was swift.

Rylee Caruso wrote, “Wow, that’s horrible and who would do something like that?”

R.J. Elliott echoed her thoughts.

“Wow, whoever took them has no heart.”

Mary Schafer called it horrible.

“This obviously represented sacred ground to someone. Whoever could do this has no heart or soul. To take and break things from a memorial site like that is unspeakable. How devastating for you. We love and wish you peace,” she wrote.

A family lawyer has been in touch with the Ministry of Transportation.

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Dr. Double Double says:
I'm assuming that Jasmine's name would be somewhere at that memorial (I've never been to it, though I've driven past many times). A little bit of investigation on the part of the Ministry would determine it's the Veneruzzo family's memorial.

It would have been far more respectful and sensible to contact the family to move back the memorial however many feet it needed to be moved to be out of the highway's right of way.

Distraction to drivers? How many collisions have been caused by drivers staring at Jasmine's memorial? To my knowledge, none.

Distasteful and disrespectful.
1/16/2012 7:06:07 PM
Shineon says:
Wow, this is pretty sad. I mean, I understand if they had to take it down due to it not adhering to current road safety regulations, but couldn't the MTO make a phone call or send a letter to the family so they at least knew what was going on and didn't have to simply drive by and assume it was the work of vandals?
This wasn't handled with tact.
1/16/2012 7:08:03 PM
blackbird says:
Scaled Back!!! It's in a ditch more than 350 feet away from any roadway, This Memorial site been there for 3 yrs. Remember this family has had no closure on this tragic collision.

1/16/2012 7:24:02 PM
blackbird says:
This picture was taken after Off duty city Police officers cut the grass, a great sentiment from the true hero's...
1/16/2012 7:55:30 PM
Delbert Grady says:
Thats the smallest 350 feet Ive ever seen.
1/16/2012 8:06:40 PM
today says:
It is awful...if you haven't been there, you'll never know...
1/16/2012 7:27:16 PM
no1knowsmyname says:
I'm sorry but reporting comments made by users of Facebook is not news and should note be included in a news story. First, can Facebook users be verified as real people? Does tbnewswatch know these users, are they legitimate? Secondly, do these Facebook users know their postings will be repeated in a news story? I think reporters need to get out from behind their computer screens and into the field a bit more.
1/16/2012 8:12:44 PM
Cathy says:
Veneruzzo Family I think the Mto has overstepped the line in regards with Jasmines memorial.I quite often pass this area and always passing always think about Jasmine and quite often say a prayer for the family.It is common practice setting up memorials along the road when someone has lost their life.I have not heard of one car ending up in the ditch from passing that area.I think the Mto need to focus their views on more important things that are distractions perhaps road signage.
Elizabeth Leveridge Kukkee
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1/16/2012 9:08:51 PM
Cathy says:
There are many road side memorials set up across Ontario and I know some have been there for 30years plus it's not uncommon for a family to do this.Larger cities have way more than Thunder Bay and I think it's a great reminder for people to slow down, I don't see how a memorial site that has been there for three years is all of sudden a problem???? The family should have been called out of respect, what an awful thing for them to do, I think when someone loses anyone they love no one should tell them to move on we are not walking in there shoes my prayers to the family
1/16/2012 10:16:37 PM
spooner19 says:
I drive by there almost everyday, this is not a distraction and has been there for a few years now. What is the bid deal and the ministry could have at least contacted the family and ask them to take parts down rather than just going there and doing it on there own. Also it's a good reminder for motorists of what happened and to use care and stay alert when driving. I travel through the U.S. a lot and there are all kinds of memorials on the sides of roads and have been there for years without anyone taking them apart because they are worried about distractions. Maybe start going after people using cell phones, eating, speeding, putting make-up on, etc, those are distractions not a memorial for someone that died as a result of a traffic accident.
1/16/2012 10:16:38 PM
ze-paw says:
I Live near this and drive by it several times a day. There is no way that this is a distraction to drivers as it is down an embankment.I think it is beautiful that this family has kept the memory going. If anything, it reminds drivers to slow down. I did'nt know who this was for but it reminds me everyday that my family is priceless. I have prayed for this unknown family several times. Our taxes pay for that property and if it is not hurting anyone they should leave it be. I am truely sad about this and think they should put it back. Stop bullying the people that pay your wages!
1/16/2012 10:21:42 PM
illuminati_nation says:
The argument that the memorial was becoming a "distraction to drivers" seems pretty weak. As someone who's done a lot of highway driving, I tend to pay attention to certain memorial sites because they're often indicators of dangerous highway spots. Anyone who's driven Highway 24 near Brantford or Highway 69 near Sudbury knows what I mean. Every time I approach Jasmine's memorial I'm reminded of the dangerous conditions and poor visibility on that section of the highway, and the life that was tragically taken there. I imagine others feel the same way. Perhaps that is what the Ministry likes least about roadside memorials on its highways. Regardless, my heart goes out to the Veneruzzo family.
1/16/2012 10:43:51 PM
itshell says:
Maybe this should be done, if it has not already...the government should put into writing what is and is not allowed when it comes to roadside memorials...this way people who set up memorials for love ones who were taken from this earth suddenly know what they are allowed to do.
1/17/2012 7:26:57 AM
northernborn says:
ICEMAN, I think it is important that we all be reminded of our mortality and that of others. I would hope that it serves as a reminder of how we need to always use safe driving practices when we are behind the wheel. Our choices can mean life or death of ourselves and others. In many US states, their own Highways ministry erects a cross at the site of each and every highway fatality. It is sombering. I saw sites of 5-6 crosses in one area and it certainly is a good reminder to slow down and drive with caution. I think we could use all the reminders we can get because it is obvious that some people just DON'T GET IT.
1/17/2012 7:35:22 AM
DougMyers says:
Even if we assume for a moment that the site was in fact a distraction:
1. Could they not have contacted the family and explained the situation and come to a reasonable solution?
2. Why was the cross broken? Seriously, that is not, by any strech of the imagination "carefully scaled down," as noted by the ministry spokes person.
1/17/2012 8:20:30 AM
hmm says:
While this story is sad and the family has my condolences, what people fail to remember is this is not your property, it's the MTO's. They can do what they want with it. They respect people's memorials, but when they get outta hand they have the right to remove them. If you're going to build a huge memorial, why not keep it in the cemetery which is made for it? Not the side of the highway.
1/17/2012 9:12:18 AM
Random says:
By saying it is the property of the MTO then it is our property. The MTO is gov't, and it is crown land, therefor ours.
If that memorial is a distraction, then every sign everywhere is, including those put up by the MTO. Taking the memorial down did nothing except cause grief to the family.
1/17/2012 9:42:12 AM
smb says:
I have a great deal of sympathy for families who have lost loved ones in traffic accidents. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to lose a daughter that way.

My sympathy notwithstanding, there is a right way and a wrong way to express one's grief. In Ontario, Section 34(2) of the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act deals with the placement of Roadside buildings, trees, signs, activities, etc, and specifies the circumstances, size and location of items from the travelled portion of provincial highways.

In 2006 the province of Ontario entered into agreement with MADD Canada to allow the erection of standardized signage along provincial highways in order to memorialize lives lost. The program is adminsitered by the Victim's Services Department at MADD Canada (). If anyone wants to place a roadside memorial, that is the legal route to take.

1/17/2012 9:35:53 AM
stonecutter says:
I am sad for the family's loss, however I do not like seeing these little memorials littered along the highways.

As someone already said, that's what grave yards are for.

1/17/2012 9:47:11 AM
blumaxter says:
While this situation is sad with the death of a young girl....the memorials must end somewhere. This is why we have cemeteries to honour and remember the dead. Drive by Riverside and you can see the many memorials. Riverside even asks that all items placed at graves be removed for the winter. Road sides are for advertising and memories of loved ones should be kept in your hearts.
1/17/2012 10:00:48 AM
DougMyers says:
While I do not agree with some posters who argue that the roadside is not the place for memorials, you must admit this was handled very poorly by the MTO to say the least.
1/17/2012 11:18:15 AM
leebee says:
The negative comments aren't neccessary. Put your self in this families position, would you be as disrespectful to yourself and your family. I know this family, they are wonderful people who have to deal with this tragedy for the rest of their lives. And for the memorial sight, how is it a distraction? I've driven by the sight a hundred times and can honestly say I never knew that all those special things were there. Unless you are looking for it, it's out of sight. A simple phone call from the MTO would have been the logical thing to do.
1/17/2012 11:20:15 AM
jimmyboy says:
It has become customary for members of the public to place items of memorial along roadways to commemorate those who have died as a result of motor vehicle related accidents.

Out of respect for grieving family and friends, the Ministry of Transportation allows placement of roadside memorials within provincial highway rights-of-way at, or near, the accident site.
Roadside memorials must not be a hazard to those using or maintaining a highway. The sole authority to remove a memorial marker resides with the District Manager, Transportation. If the District Manager determines that it is absolutely necessary to remove a memorial marker for safety, construction or maintenance purposes, he or she will attempt to contact the individuals who erected the memorial and facilitate its relocation or seems the latter part of this statement was missed by the MTO.!
1/17/2012 11:48:12 AM
rootbear says:
MTO fail
1/17/2012 1:12:35 PM
stuck? says:
I drive by that intersection nearly every day and I don't think I've ever so much as seen a hint of the memorial...

Distracting? Not even close.
1/17/2012 1:19:19 PM
DougMyers says:
The more I think about this the more it bothers me.

How can the MTO claim that the "tree" that was left there was a distraction? Have a look at the picture posted above and look what is around the memorial, TREES!

They use the words "scaled back" and as another posted, according to their own rules they should have contacted the family.

It was not scaled back, it was desecrated. All this did was rehash an old tragedy.

A public apology to the family is in order and a promise to better deal with these situations in the future.
1/17/2012 2:43:56 PM
She says:
I think all comments on this should be deleted.Some people are just too cold hearted for my taste and I'm sure the family and friends of this beautiful daughter are upset enough.
1/17/2012 5:11:34 PM
Sarbear says:
For all the people who are writing that this memorial site is distracting... IT'S NOT!! It was beautiful and a way for the Veneruzzo family to reach out and show how much jasmine meant to them! Not only did her family put stuff on the memorial, but her friends who love and miss her dearly. It was lit up bright because that showed who jasmine was! Always happy and smiling! And for the user no1knowsmyname how do we know that ur legit? Look at your user name... People need to think before speaking cause all these negative comments and the actions of the MTO are causing the family more grief then they need! Think if this was your family before you post something ridiculous like the comments I have been reading on here!!!!
1/17/2012 5:30:08 PM
smb says:
Spooner19 - regarding your comment 'look up the definition of Crown Land' - use of Crown Land is defined in the Ontario Public Lands Act. It is a contravention of the Public Lands Act to deposit any building or thing on Crown Land without a permit.

Jimmyboy - Regarding your entry of 11:48am. You have cut this statement from the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation. In Ontario, the MTO has entered into agreement with MADD Canada, through whom applications for memorials along provincial highways (in the form of standardized signage) must be processed.
1/17/2012 6:40:52 PM
Dan Dan says:
This "memorial" had gotten completely out of hand.
1/20/2012 10:14:27 AM
TrueBlue says:
Obviously Not!
1/21/2012 10:36:57 PM
blackbird says:
Absolutely Wrong!
1/22/2012 1:11:15 PM
spooner19 says:
Dan Dan says:
This "memorial" had gotten completely out of hand.

Who are you to say what is acceptable and not as far as memorials go?
1/21/2012 6:26:30 PM
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