Boca Raton-inspired bill would require advance notice of roadside memorial relocation, removal

Roadside memorial AP
The accidental removal of a memorial honoring five teens who died in a 1996 crash prompted the legislation.

After the removal of a long-standing roadside memorial this year blindsided the families of those it honored, lawmakers are proposing a fix to ensure such a thing never happens again.

Doral Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez and Highland Beach Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman filed twin bills (SB 572, HB 421) to require government or private entities to “make best efforts” to give advance notice of any changes to a roadside memorial.

That includes removal, alterations, dismantling or destruction of the structure. Notice would be due to the entity or person that installed the memorial and “any person whose deceased loved one is commemorated” by it.

The measure, which would go into effect July 1, does not include any criminal or civil penalties for ignoring it.

Dubbed the “Dori Slosberg, Carolina Gil Gallego, Margo Scher, Crystal Cordes and Ryan Rashidian Memorial Notification Act,” the legislation is named for five teens who died in a horrific car crash in Boca Raton on Feb. 23, 1996, and the memorial installed for them.

In mid-August, Palm Beach County road crews removed the memorial — four Christian crosses and a Jewish star — on Palmetto Park Road. After a week and a half of outcry and admission by the county that the memorial was removed “in error,” crews reconstructed it.

Inquiries by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and Commissioner Mari Woodward found the memorial was removed following a complaint about another shrine nearby that obstructed the right of way.

Woodward told WPTV county engineers surveyed the area and removed three memorials. Photos of the memorial to the teens who died in 1996 show it situated in a grassed area safely distanced from the road.

One of those it commemorated, Dori Slosberg, was the daughter of former state Rep. Irving Slosberg, a champion for roadway safety legislation and founder of the nonprofit Dori Saves Lives.

He and his daughter Emily Slosberg-King, his successor in the Legislature and Dori’s twin sister, told WPTV that none of the families were informed of plans to remove the memorial or any complaints about it.

Palm Beach officials confirmed the memorial was removed “in error.” The land on which the memorial stood didn’t belong to the county but to the Lake Worth drainage district, which approved its construction years before.

Slosberg has since called for an investigation.

Rodriguez told Florida Politics she wants to prevent others from enduring the “great emotional distress” the memorial’s removal caused.

“With this bill, I hope to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future and allow loved ones of those being commemorated to emotionally prepare for the removal or alteration of roadside memorials,” she said by text.

In 2019, Slosberg-King successfully sponsored a bill that made texting while driving a primary offense, meaning an officer would need only to see a motorist using their phone while driving to pull them over.

Before the measure went into effect, distracted driving was a secondary offense. It could only be penalized if police witnessed drivers or motorcyclists committing an infraction such as swerving, speeding or running a red light.

Slosberg-King tried the following year to expand a law the Legislature approved in 2009 granting police authority to pull vehicles over if a driver, front-seat passenger or passengers under 18 were not wearing seat belts.

The measure (HB 179) died without a hearing and hasn’t been returned.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Earl Pitts "The Ronald's Un-Official Campaign Manager" American

    December 12, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Good Morn ‘Ting Florida,
    Condolances to the family(s) of the 5 teens who tradgically passed in that accident.
    Issues like this, as sad as they are, are not issues to be addressed in the short and precious time allocated to Florida’s Legislative Session.
    This, sad situation is 100% best handled with warp speed in the Administrative Process.
    Not the long and drawn out Legislative Process.
    These miss-guided Legislators: Doral Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez and Highland Beach Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman are shamelessy grandstanding in their own vain self promotion and inappropiatly delaying a quick and proper Administrative solution to the berived family(s).
    These legislators are wrong in grandstanding themselves in this manner when a quick 5 minute phone call to the Govornor’s office would have initiated an almost immediate quick fix in the administrative process.
    Bottom line:
    Doral Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez and Highland Beach Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman are inappropratly grand-standing themselves at the expense of the family(s).
    Wasting precious Legislative time and money.
    The Speaker of The House and The President of The Senate need to do their jobs and stop this grand-standing wast of time and money now. And immediatly refer the issue to The Administrative process for a quick and fair solution for these families and to prevent such a future occurance.
    Thank you Florida,
    Earl Pitts American

  • Anomyous DOT Employee

    December 12, 2023 at 9:59 am

    Thanks Mr. Pitts for calling out this sad issue,
    We are going ahead with a “mock exercise” to create a quick and easy administrative fix to the roadside memorial issue in order to implment an immediate fix should the request come down from The Govornor’s Office. We should be ready prior to close of business today.
    Anomyous DOT Employee

  • rick whitaker

    December 12, 2023 at 10:34 am

    anomyousDOTemployee, this comment looks like a fake earl the fool pitts post.

Comments are closed.


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