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Vandals Destroy Memorial To I-540 Crash Victims

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Wake County sheriff's deputies believe someone destroyed a roadside tribute to four teenagers killed in a crash on Interstate 540 four years ago.

Bryan Reaves, Jamie Brewer, Matthew Yurcak and David Smith all died in the wreck when the car they were in crossed the median and hit an oncoming van.

Their families, hoping to grow past their grief, planted trees to remember them. Over the weekend, someone cut down those trees, re-opening wounds that were just starting to heal.

  • "It's just sick. It's absolutely sick," said Irma Reaves, Bryan's mother.

    "It's like we're trying to move on and get our lives back together, put back the pieces, and things like this just tear it up again," said Meredith Yurcak, Matthew's sister.

    Strangers have stopped by and offered to replace the trees and friends have visited too and cried.

    The site is filled with symbols, an angel, a teddy bear even the oaks, the four trees formed a diamond.

    Detectives say the incident was no accident. They said whoever committed the vandalism targeted the memorial and used a chainsaw to do it.

    The DOT says replacing the Oaks will cost about a thousand dollars per tree.

    The families have offered a $2,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. A local businessman has offered an $8,000 reward.

    Roadside memorials evolved from Catholic traditions in Spain and Mexico. Now, they are common on roads and highways across the nation.

    No national laws exist right now that prohibit roadside memorials, however, states use local policies to regulate them. Some, such as North Carolina and Oregon, prohibit memorials. Others, such as Florida and Washington, allow only state-sanctioned markers.


    Scott Mason