SURREY (NEWS 1130) – How would you feel if people stole flowers from a roadside memorial you set up for a loved one?
The family of a Surrey woman killed by a drunk driver in 2011 is speaking out because that’s been happening over the last few years.
Kassandra Kaulius was killed in May 2011 while making her way home from a softball game in Cloverdale.
Now, years later, the memorial set up by her family, including her mother Markita Kaulius, at the corner of 152nd Street and 64th Avenue is being raided — the flowers taken, year after year, adding to the family’s pain.
“I would ask them to please leave them,” Kassandra’s mother says of the flowers at memorial sites. “Families have gone to the extents, and the costs and the emotional impact of going and laying these at the crash site.”
She estimates flowers at her daughter’s memorial have been stolen more than 30 times over the past seven years.
“It’s just really sad that people would even think of doing this. We ended up putting a sign out there as well: ‘Please don’t steal the flowers, this is for a memorial as our daughter was killed there.'”
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Markita wants people to just leave the items they see at similar sites alone, and urges anyone who may see someone stealing flowers from a memorial site to ask them why they are doing so.
The ordeal, she says, is taking a toll on her family.
“It is. The last ones we took we laid there on June 27th — which was supposed to be Kassandra’s 30th birthday, and they lasted four days and then somebody stole them, walked away with them.
“You know, that was a gift to her, where she took her last breath.”
She says her family leaves flowers for Kassandra at the memorial site because her death was one that many in the community remember. “We wanted to put something different there that people could look over and just see there’s life there, there are plants growing… Remember who she was.”
However, the family will continue to go back and bring flowers for Kassandra.
‘We live every parents worst nightmare’
Markita continues her advocacy for the victims of drunk drivers, through Families for Justice which assists other families who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers.
“I had three calls last week — one from a parent in Nova Scotia, one from a parent in Saskatchewan, and another one in New Brunswick who’ve all lost their children. Aged 13, 16, and 19 to drunk drivers.”
She says she’s been to Ottawa on a number of occasions to ask for tougher penalties for impaired driving, but adds her attempts haven’t resulted in the way they would have liked them to.
Markita also has concerns about the coming legalization of recreational marijuana, saying it will certainly lead to more impaired driving deaths in this country.
“We know that there will be more impaired driving death, and it’s just very scary for us that have been through it. We live every parents worst nightmare of having our child killed by someone.”
Markita adds she’s checked with the city and has confirmed it is not responsible for the removal of flowers from memorial sites.
“I live this every single day. Just please leave the flowers there,” she says to those responsible.
Whether anything can be done about the flower thefts Markita is unsure.