Help catch memorial desecrator

All that was left of the Salske sisters tree yesterday. Picture: TARA GOONAN
All that was left of the Salske sisters tree yesterday. Picture: TARA GOONAN

CALL police if you see anyone interfering with roadside memorials on Baranduda Boulevard.

Criminals charges could be laid against anyone who has vandalised or destroyed displays left by families and friends of deceased road accident victims.

Police say they will step up patrols along Baranduda Boulevard after two such memorials were desecrated for the third time in two months.

Acting Sen-Sgt Tony Chamberlain yesterday urged passing motorists to report anything suspicious but not to take matters into their own hands.

Meanwhile, Wodonga Council said it was working with the families of crash victims Matthew Bownds, 40, and sisters Emily , 10, and her sister Brooke Salske, 7, to erect permanent memorials along the boulevard.

The families this week found the memorials had been destroyed again.

Mr Bownds died in a motorcycle accident on the stretch of road in September last year while Emily and Brooke died in January after the car in which they were travelling left the road and crashed into a tree.

On Wednesday night, a white cross dedicated to Mr Bownds was removed and a colourful display of flowers and streamers left for the girls — mostly by their classmates at Baranduda Primary School — were ripped up.

A fortnight ago, crosses dedicated to all three were removed and found dumped in Wodonga Cemetery and rubbish left in their place, with a sign stating: “Since you dumped your rubbish here, you won’t mind if we do the same. Cheers, your friendly C.F.E.R.”

The sites were first attacked in May 10 the eve of Mother’s Day.

“That any group or individual would go to such lengths to do this is very disheartening,” Acting Sen-Sgt Chamberlain said.

“The behaviour being displayed by a minority is upsetting quite a fair few more.

“It affects the whole community.

“What they’re doing also has an effect on the children who go past there.”

He invited anyone who took issue with the memorials to speak with him directly.

Wodonga Council community relations manager Sue Beattie said discussions were under way with the families to create permanent memorials.

They would possibly be placed further back toward the fenceline, allowing more room for people to pull over and tend to them safely.

Mrs Beattie said the council “very infrequently” had complaints about memorials and had received two about the boulevard sites, based on them being a distraction.