The mother of a young man who drowned in a tubing accident on the Similkameen River is hoping her family and the village can come to an agreement on the location of a permanent memorial.
A wood cross put up as a memorial to Derek Woodrow who died at the young age of 19 on July 20, 2013, was cut down by a third party contractor hired to do maintenance at the dike sometime earlier this winter.
Woodrow was pulled under the water after the rope he used to tie himself to the air mattress he was floating on got caught on a rock.
Roanne Prince, said when she learned her son’s wood memorial cross had been cut down she was devastated.
“It upset everybody and it was sitting down there for two weeks, down by the river,” she said during a telephone interview with the Review. “I don’t’ go down there too often. It’s hard. I go when I’m upset or when my daughter wants to go. Now there’s nothing there to remember him.”
Prince said she understands the village is trying to come up with a permanent solution, there’s discussion ongoing about putting a plaque in Pine Park, but she doesn’t understand why the memorial was cut down in the first place or why the family wasn’t contacted to move it before work started.
This is the second memorial for her son that has been removed along the dike. The first was put in the ground off to the side of the path on the dike. Prince said she was asked to remove it because it was obstructing the path. The family then put up the second memorial in a tree thinking it would be out of the way and not a problem for anyone.
“I do love this town and do think there are kind people here. But, there should have been someone overseeing all this. They shouldn’t have missed it, they should have known that a cross in a tree is a memorial for someone and it would hurt people,” she said.
Prince said she is open to working with the village to find a permanent memorial spot for her son, but she isn’t sure about Pine Park.
“We feel lost when we go down there. He grew up here. He has lots of friends and people that go there to remember him not just his family. The rock is there that held him down but other than that there’s nothing,” she said.
Mayor Manfred Bauer said Monday after the council meeting that council and staff are very sorry the memorial was cut down.
“We have apologized. The minute we found out about it we started working with the family,” he said.
“This was an accident, an unfortunate accident and we’re working with the family to find a permanent way to setup a memorial.”