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FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2007
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Teen's roadside memorial stolen
Cross in Hartselle had been placed in memory of boy killed in accident

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A mother's quest to memorialize her son and cope with his untimely death has again been interrupted by vandals.

For the third time in less than 18 months, someone has destroyed a cross Karen McKelvey placed on private property on Moss Chapel Road.

This time, someone stole the cross eight days after Patrick Haley would have celebrated his 18th birthday.

Dealing with loss

"I'm trying to maintain the right attitude, but I'm getting frustrated and this is making me furious," McKelvey said.

"There are so many roadside memorials," the mother continued. "It helps us deal with our loss. It's not designed to make anyone feel bad."

She said, "The property owners gave me permission to put it there, and they called me yesterday (Wednesday) and told me someone had stolen it."

Haley, 16, of Decatur died Dec. 18, 2005, in an automobile accident on Moss Chapel Road. He was a passenger in a vehicle that apparently went airborne and hit a culvert before resting near a tree where McKelvey erected the cross.

Investigators said speed was a factor. Following an engineer's recommendation to make the road safer, Hartselle installed more stop signs, speed humps and better lighting. There has been no accident since.

Before June 2006, vandals destroyed two wooden crosses McKelvey placed at the scene. That's when she had a metal cross made and placed it in the ground in cement.

She visited the site July 3, which is Haley's birthday, to place a flower and balloon on the cross.

McKelvey said the rain apparently softened the ground enough for someone to pull out the cross.

"I live with what happened to my son every day," she said. "This just blows my mind that someone would intentionally do this."

At some point, McKelvey said, she will erect another cross.

"I just want to remember my son and remind people of the danger of this hill," she said. "Is that a bad thing? I'm not trying to hurt anyone."

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