Families surprised to learn FDOT removed memorials

FOX 35 News at 6 p.m.

- Tyler Tracy, 21, was driving north on U.S. Highway 1 in Bunnell, near County Road 304, when witnesses say he was cut off.  His truck flipped into this ditch and he died instantly, according to investigators.

His family put up a memorial the next day. Tracy's wife, Brianna, helped create the memorial. Every month she brings her 2-year-old daughter, Emerson, to the site, so she can leave a balloon for her daddy.  "We keep one balloon here and we put it under a rock, and then we let one balloon go. She'll write on it or color it."

On Wednesday, Brianna received a call from a friend saying most of the memorial was gone. But it wasn't just Tracy's memorial that was missing. Grieving mother Renee Bethlel also got the same call. Her son, Jamie Hutcherson, had a memorial that was picked apart. He was killed while riding a motorcycle in 2012.

"My son had a tattoo of a sprocket -- because he rode motorcross his whole life -- on his arm, and we made a memorial sprocket and had it up here and that's what they took down," Bethlel said. 

It turns out, a Florida Department of Transportation official who was driving in the area had five roadside memorials taken down. We talked to an FDOT spokeswoman who says, "We understand when people lose a loved one, they want to memorialize their life, and we try to be very respectful of that."

FDOT says only metal roadside memorial are permitted and a form can be filled out by families for such requests. On the form it says any additional ornaments or decorations are not allowed. 

While these families managed to get back most of their things taken from the site, they tell FOX 35 News they intend to fight this and get their own memorials put back. 

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