Construction worker memorial removed from West Chester roadway

A large memorial erected at the scene of a 2015 crash that killed a construction worker has been removed, but not as planned by West Chester Twp. officials.

Amber Rooks died from injuries she sustained after a vehicle struck her and four other utility workers April 22, 2015, in a marked construction zone on Cox Road. Shortly after, a large memorial went up at the scene.

After the sentencing this past May of the driver who hit the workers, there were no immediate plans to remove the memorial, but officials were concerned it may be a distraction in a high-traffic area. Questions were raised if the memorial was in the public right of way or on private property.

This week after determining the memorial was on public property, township officials contacted Shannon Dethlefs, mother of the woman killed, to tell her they intended to take down the memorial on Friday.

Barb Wilson, West Chester Twp. spokeswoman, said she spoke with Dethlefs and offered to keep the memorial at a township facility until the family could make plans to take possession of it.

The memorial — which includes a teddy bear dressed in a construction vest mounted to a cross made of pieces of reflective barricade — has become a sacred place for the family, according to Dethlefs. Especially for Rooks’ 9-year-old son, Dylan.

Dethlefs said there was no reason for the removal and it was a reminder for people to drive safely. After two days of soul searching, Dethlefs said she asked ADP, the company who employed her daughter, to take it down and store it safely.

“I didn’t just want them (township works) to toss it in the back of a truck,” Dethlefs said choking tears. She added she will continue to fight to have the memorial put back on or near the original location. “I am going to be their worst nightmare.”

Wilson said officials have “great compassion” for the family, but they have to consistently apply the rules for a public right of way. On Friday. two other memorials for victims of fatal vehicle crashes in the public right of way were removed by the township.

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