TxDOT removes I-35 crash memorial in dangerous location
A woman who risked her life to try and save a victim in a I-35 fatal crash made a memorial, but it was in a dangerous location.
Two people were killed in a fiery crash on I-35 near 290 just before midnight on Thursday, January 4. Austin Police has still not identified the victims.
Over the weekend, a woman who saw an explosion after the crash and came over to help, built a memorial of flowers and a cross. However, when she came back to add more flowers early Monday afternoon, the memorial was gone.
"I was very devastated, very angry," Valdez said. "Instantly was furious."
Valdez risked her life, running to the burning SUV to try and pull one of the victims out of the wreckage. She said she got burns on her face and hands, but wasn't able to save the woman.
That's why she built the memorial.
"I couldn't save her so that was my way of saying I'm sorry I tried. And to show her that she's loved," Valdez said.
TxDOT took the memorial down just after noon Monday. That's because the memorial was inside a barrier between the I-35 main lanes and the exit ramp to the 290 flyover.
"Getting that close to the through lanes on I-35 it really is a hazard for anybody trying to do that, as well as for any of the motorists in the area," TxDOT spokesperson Chris Bishop said.
Bishop said they took the memorial down, but didn't destroy the flowers. He said those are on hold and Valdez can contact him to pick them up.
Bishop said anyone wanting to build a memorial after a crash near a highway, can ask TXDOT for help. A maintenance crewmember can come by and help the family pick out a safe location.
Anyone wanting to contact TXDOT for help with a memorial can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Safety is our top priority and it's not that we don't want people to have a chance to memorialize a friend or a loved one but we want to make sure that things are done safely," Bishop said.
There are certain guidelines for memorials including: photographs aren't allowed, cannot be within medians, no concrete allowed and it cannot saw the crash was a result of drunk driving unless there is proof of a DWI conviction.
After seeing the memorial gone, Valdez made a new one next to a tree by the feeder road. Bishop said TxDOT can help her determine if that is a safe location.
"So I put it over here and I hope nobody bothers it," Valdez said.