Widow asked to remove roadside memorial

Widow asked to remove roadside memorial (Image 1)

It's common to see roadside memorials where people have died in car accidents.  They are meant to honor the lives of loved ones who have passed away.

But the Tennessee Department of Transportation calls such memorials dangerous and most people don't realize that roadside memorials are illegal in the state.

Angela Warpoole found out the hard way.

Warpoole's husband, Jackie, wasn't killed in a crash.  He was shot to death December 15 while sitting behind the wheel of his car near the Almaville Road exit on Interstate 24 in Smyrna.  His case remains unsolved.

Warpoole and her son had placed a cross at the scene of his murder.

“We put it in what we thought was a safe and protected area for them and for us.  It's a cross that's placed for Jackie in honor of him and for us every day.  I pass by that spot every day and I think it would help other motorists who have lost a loved one for any reason,” said Angela Warpoole.

She was contacted Monday by a representative from TDOT who informed her of the law.

To comply, Warpoole took down the cross Monday night.

“I'm sad it had to become the issue when there are thousands of them all over the state of Tennessee,” Warpoole to News 2.

The law is a sensitive subject and a difficult one to enforce.

TDOT does not issue fines or citations.  Instead, the agency simply asks people to remove the roadside memorials that could be hazardous to others.

“Placing a memorial along a busy roadway is dangerous to both the person placing the memorial and passing motorists,” said TDOT spokesperson Deanna Lambert.
TDOT has a program called Tennessee Groves which allows individuals or groups to purchase trees or flowers to plant at Welcome Centers in the state.

“Tennessee Groves is a good alternative to roadside memorials. It is a safe, lasting and legal way to honor and remember a loved one,” Lambert said.

Investigators believe Jackie Warpoole Jr. was in Murfreesboro during the early morning hours of December 15 before he died.

A billboard with his picture is posted along Broad Street. The family hopes it will generate new leads.

Friends have collected $15,000 for information leading to an arrest.

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