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Family fights to keep roadside memorial for father

Adams County taped a notice to the cross two weeks ago, warning the family they have until Thursday to remove the memorial or the county will.

STRASBURG, Colorado — On a drive up a dusty dirt road in rural Strasburg, a small roadside memorial stands out against a weedy culvert. It's a tribute to Jimmy Brown, who died in a crash near that spot in 2019.

Over the years, Brown’s family built up the memorial, constructing a stone wall to stop water from washing out the site and a bench where family can sit when they visit.

But after more than three years, the family returned to the site earlier this month to find a note taped to the cross, covering the “We Miss You” message. It was a notice from Adams County giving the family two weeks to clear out the memorial. The Brown family had until Sept. 21 to remove it, the note read, or the county would remove the structure and could assess costs associated with that removal to the family.

“Thinking about taking this down kills me,” Tiffany Brown said, sitting on the stone bench. “It hurts me. This means everything to my family.”

Brown said her father was driving too fast down Yulle Road north of East 56th Avenue in 2019 when he lost control of his car and crashed into a utility pole. He was ejected into the field nearby, where he died.

“He died right above up here in the field all by himself,” she said. “I feel connected to where he took his last breath. I feel that he is here.”

Tiffany and her brothers Jacob and Tyler built the cross and placed it near the field the day he died. With the adjacent property owner’s permission, they built up the memorial, clearing out the weeds in the area, building a retaining wall to stop the dirt from eroding and building a stone bench where the family could sit and reflect.

Jacob Brown said the roadside site was the perfect place, as the road dead ends nearby and there isn’t much traffic. He said the area is quiet.

“I’ve had people from the county stop by with the graders and stuff that have come through here,” Jacob Brown said. “They’ve stopped by and told me that it looked really nice… they couldn’t believe somebody would do that for someone that they loved.”

So when Jacob found the notice on the cross, he was surprised. His brother Tyler said it didn’t make any sense at all.

“I don’t see it as a danger to anything,” Tyler said. “If they well maintain the sides and mowed and stuff, then absolutely.”

“We’re given two weeks to have it removed with no notice no nothing. Two weeks is just crazy.”

When 9NEWS contacted Adams County Monday, county spokesperson Nikki Kimbleton said that the notice wasn’t meant as any kind of warning.

“Currently, there is no active code violation associated with this memorial, and we won't proceed with its removal until we've had the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the Brown family,” Kimbleton said. “When our code enforcement officer issued the notice two weeks ago, we were unaware of the individuals responsible for building the memorial, and our intention was to establish communication to find potential solutions. Regrettably, we did not receive any communication from them during this period.”

Kimbleton said the memorial is in a public right-of-way and its construction could pose a risk to drivers and pedestrians.

“We are eager to collaborate with the Brown family to find a meaningful way to honor their father that does not compromise the safety of those using the area,” she said.

Kimbleton said the county has established processes for roadside memorials – a sign program that allows a family to request a blue sign with a message about safe driving along with the crash victim’s name.

Tiffany Brown said the sudden notice posted on the memorial re-traumatized her.

“I’ve cried more the past two weeks over this. I would be devastated if we had to remove this,” she said.

She started a petition on Change.org that’s collected more than 800 signatures at the time of this writing.

“I’m fighting like heck to keep it here. I feel like I will lose a part of myself if this is not here. I won’t be able to come and grieve," she said. 

> Have a tip about a story? E-mail 9NEWS reporter Steve Staeger at steve@9news.com.



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