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Story - News

May 21, 2012 4:22 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Removal Of East Quogue Memorial Upsets Family, Friends

May 23, 2012 9:37 AM

Family and friends of the Quiogue teenager who died in a car accident last June said they are upset and confused by the Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department’s 
decision last week to remove a roadside memorial in East Quogue that honors the 18-year-old.

The shrine in question was created for Cameron Nicholls, who was killed after the car he was a passenger in slammed into a parked vehicle on 
Lewis Road, near the East Quogue Village Green, on June 26, 2011. Mr. Nicholls, who graduated from Westhampton Beach High School earlier that day, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The day after his death, several of his friends and classmates held a candlelight vigil near where he died and set up the memorial, part of which was attached to a tree that sits inside the town-owned park.

Family friend Geralyn DiPresso-Sagar said this week that the memorial had featured a cross, rosary beads, painted shells and handmade butterflies—all placed by Cameron’s friends—and flowers that were planted by Cameron’s father, David, months after the shrine was created. The Southampton Village resident also noted that some of the items were nailed to the tree.

“They desecrated the shrine without an ounce of sensitivity,” Ms. DiPresso-Sagar said of 
the town workers, adding that they ruined some of the sentimental items while removing them.

But Christopher Bean, the superintendent of the Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department, explained that workers took care while removing the items last Wednesday, May 16, and that they made a point of saving and boxing all of the items that were left at the makeshift memorial. He noted that the family can pick up the boxes at his office in Hampton Bays at any time; as of Monday afternoon, they had not yet been picked up.

Mr. Bean said he made the decision to take down the memorial after receiving calls 
from local residents asking why it was permitted on public property. He said the tree that 
some of the items were affixed to is located within the Village Green.

“It is a delicate situation,” Mr. Bean said late last week. “It was a spontaneous memorial that was put there and has been there for a long time.”

He added that, in recent weeks, it “started getting a little bit bigger. Last week, after a number of inquiries from residents about it being on public property, I made the decision to remove it.”

According to Stephanie Nicholls, Cameron’s mother, her family received no warning from the town alerting them that it would be removed. Ms. Nicholls said she only learned of the memorial’s disappearance after one of her late son’s friends, Krissy Hoefer, called her last Thursday morning to ask why it was no longer there.

“It caught us off guard,” Ms. Nicholls said. “We were shocked and surprised, and we hope that the town will do the right thing and continue to allow us to use the tree as a memorial.”

Mr. Bean said that since the memorial was removed, he has met with Mr. and Ms. Nicholls and intends to work with them to find a more suitable location in the park for a permanent memorial for their son.

“The family is very nice, and I feel for them,” Mr. Bean said. “But the situation is that it was on a public piece of property, and we have to clean it up for the upcoming season.”

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Shouldn't the memorial site be his gravesite ? This relatively new habit of placing shrines at variouis locations where speeding drivers went off the road is baffling to me .. maybe it should end here ..
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on May 22, 12 9:12 PM
I absolutely agree. I think this whole business of memorializing accident scenes should be done away with. After all, if someone dies in a hospital room, does the family get to put a memorial cross on the wall in the room?

By itsamazing (221), Southampton on May 22, 12 10:22 PM
5 members liked this comment
Actually the placement of a memorial where the person died originates from Mexico.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on May 22, 12 9:32 PM
Not sure that is actually true. I know that there are other countries that also do this. Years ago I was in Greece and they have much more permanent markers that this along their roads.


By bb (862), Hampton Bays on May 22, 12 10:41 PM
It's done in Ireland as well; small crosses put wherever a fatal accident occurs to serve as both a memorial but also as an indication of the dangerous conditions of road, hill or hair-pin turn.
By EastEnder2 (30), Hampton Bays on May 23, 12 9:35 AM
Yes these were much more permanent and did serve as a reminder of dangerous conditions. They also didn't fade and get ruined by the elements.
By bb (862), Hampton Bays on May 23, 12 10:38 AM
All concerned parties can trust that Mr. Bean will handle this situation in a professional and respectful manner. He is one of the best town employees.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 22, 12 9:53 PM
I appreciate when a person can plainly say 'I made the decision' after considering the variables. Right or wrong, short or long term, it shows they are comfortable with their role and accept their accountability under it. It goes to character.
By Speonk Shores (31), Remsenburg on May 23, 12 6:58 AM
2 members liked this comment
I am right on board with EastEnd68. Mr. Bean is a gentleman, and one of the true good people this community has. I am sure he will make sure all parties are pleased with the ultimate solution for such a tragic issue.
By ILOVESOUTHAMPTON (3), Southampton on May 22, 12 11:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Alabama, or at least Birmingham, used to put up signs with big black spots on them at every fatal car accident site, and that was about forty-five years ago.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on May 22, 12 11:40 PM
Oh Yes ! If it's one state we want to emulate, it's Alabama !!
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on May 23, 12 7:20 AM
That's a pretty bigoted statement.
By Mr. Snerdley (392), Southampton on May 23, 12 8:40 AM
2 members liked this comment
Well... Alabama is a pretty bigoted state !! lol !
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on May 23, 12 9:56 AM
These people should get some perspective. The site of a death should not be memorialized as a distraction to all future drivers - eventually the country will be littered with such memorials, and help cause more of them. It's really nothing more than litter and forcing such blight is an injury to the public.
By Funbeer (257), Southampton on May 23, 12 2:21 AM
I pass by Cameron's memorial daily and it has caused me to reflect on the grief that his mother and friends have been going through this past year. I have a grandson who shares the same name. I don't view the memorial as a distraction,
but rather a reminder of how fleeting life is. The East Quogue Village Green is a fitting place for anyone to ponder their life. Cameron's memorial is not "litter" and one would hope an appropriate resolution is found. Oh yes, I live in EQ and I am OK with the ...more
By crusader (390), East Quogue on May 23, 12 8:13 AM
2 members liked this comment
Spot on
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on May 23, 12 10:17 AM
Mr Bean could have handled this in a more professional and respectful manner . I understand that the site may have been inconvenient for a roadside memorial , but he should have contacted the family first to notify them it had to be removed . You get an attaboy Mr. Bean .
By AndersEn (163), Southampton on May 23, 12 9:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
what about just a small respectful cross or plaque
By alocal (9), Southampton on May 23, 12 9:50 AM
I am considering putting a memorial in my front yard. A member of my family died at my home. After I pass i hope my family will honor me by putting another memorial in the front yard also. Nobody goes to cemetaries anymore so I think we should rethink using them. Cremation and memorials at the roadside and private property are the way to go leaving what would have been cemetaries could now be parkland or workforce housing.
By sgt202 (75), Hampton Bays on May 23, 12 12:37 PM
private property and public property are two very different issues . Also, if you decide to sell your property, are you going to dig up your kin's remains and take them with you ??
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on May 24, 12 9:10 AM
Unspoken in the article or commentaries is that this is an example of symbols, secular and religious, permanently placed on public property. The suit by the East End Eruv Association to compel authorities to permit placement of Orthodox Jewish religious symbols on utility poles has made public officials aware that permitting any such display makes them liable to allow ALL displays.

I find these memorials to be evocative and affecting and certainly don't mind seeing them by the roadside ...more
By highhatsize (3966), East Quogue on May 23, 12 1:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
HHS-I just reviewed your last six posts-you really know everything about everything.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 23, 12 5:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Except how to get rid of a pest like you !
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on May 24, 12 9:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
I think all roadside memorials should be removed. They should be done at a cemetery which is what they were created for. If that is unreasonable plant a tree plants ect at the site. If thats not good enough put all the crap on your own front lawn not on public property.
By prometheus (12), HB on May 24, 12 4:51 PM
Bill in Riverhead: If the property is sold then the memorial on my property could be removed but the ashes would stay there.... like you do with pets you bury in your yard.
By sgt202 (75), Hampton Bays on May 27, 12 1:27 PM
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