Family angered after memorial for crash victim is taken down

Updated: Thursday, February 21 2013, 10:50 PM EST
Family angered after memorial for crash victim is taken down  story image
CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Anger and frustration are mounting in Calhoun County over a memorial for a crash victim.

19-year-old Nate France was killed during a car crash in Battle Creek in 2012. For nearly a year a memorial honoring his life stood on Clark Street, but last week that memorial was taken down, but not by his family or friends.

Toeing the line between safety and honoring a loved one, the City of Battle Creek says the memorial was a safety hazard, but the teenager’s friends don’t understand why their hard work had to go.

“It’s where he was last on this earth,” said Aaron Rheinsburg, Nate France’s best friend. “It’s crazy to think that it happened, but it’s where it happened.”

What looks like any wooded area off Clark Street in Battle Creek is sacred ground to those who knew Nate France, it’s where he took his last breath after losing control of his car in 2012.

“I thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t a joke,” said Rheinsburg. “Everybody that knows Nate pays their respects here.”

Only a few weeks before the anniversary of Nate’s death, March 10th, his family and friends were stunned to find that someone had taken down his elaborate memorial.

“It’s heartless, very heartless,” said Marty Masters, Nate’s mother. “It’s not like it was blocking the roadway, it’s not like there’s tons of cars stopping every single day.”

The City of Battle Creek told Newschannel 3 that it has received several complaints saying the memorial was a safety hazard, and that cars were stopping on the road and citing near accidents.

The memorial was on private land, so the city requested that the land owner take it down.

“Heartless, wrong, unnecessary, it’s gone,” said Jake France, Nate’s brother. “There’s really no reason for it.”

Even the tree that Nate hit was cut down, but friends and family says memorial or not, they will continue to gather on the site, remembering a life lost too soon and wondering why.

“People put on their four ways when they stop here, they pull off the curb, it’s a place for them to come and feel safe and talk to Nathan,” said Masters.

Nate’s family says they were able to get back some of the items that had been placed at the site. They are still planning on holding a vigil there on March 10th and say they will continue to stop by every so often.
Family angered after memorial for crash victim is taken down
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