Safety concerns spur move of roadside memorial for teen girls

By: Gus Thomson and Joyia Emard, Gold Country News Service and Loomis News
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More floral tributes, signs and crosses were placed Tuesday by the side of Auburn Folsom Road, at the scene of a crash Sunday that took the lives of Morgan Helman and Vivian Conner, who were killed in a rollover accident.

But officials and family members concerned about pedestrian safety along the narrow road have transferred the memorials to locations at Newcastle Elementary and Del Oro High schools.

Some flowers had already been moved by Tuesday afternoon as more classmates drove to the site with additional flowers and other tributes to the girls.

Newcastle Elementary Principal Kathleen Daugherty said the move of tributes has the support of the girls’ families, who are concerned about safety along Auburn Folsom Road.

Del Oro sent an email to parents informing them of the movement of memorial items to the schools.

The email stated Del Oro administration had been working with Morgan’s family, California Highway Patrol, Placer County Sheriff’s Office and Newcastle Elementary about the memorial that had developed at the accident scene.

"The location of the tragedy is on a narrow roadway that has no shoulder and has been the scene of several accidents.  It is not safe for our students and families," the email stated.

Officer David Martinez of the California Highway Patrol said that pedestrians – as they should along any road – must consider their own safety. The section of Auburn Folsom Road where the crash occurred is just past a turn where motorists don’t have a view of pedestrians as they come around a curve, he said.

“The memorial is also going to distract drivers,” Martinez said. “It’s unfortunate that we lost two girls. We don’t want any more accidents.”

Underscoring the potential danger, a woman in her 70s was struck and killed Monday in Sacramento while crossing the street to bring flowers to a roadside vigil in North Sacramento for a traffic accident victim who died there Sunday.

The Del Oro email to parents also informed them that Del Oro's student rooter section called the "Black Hole" would pay tribute to the four students who had died in the past two months.  The student section will sit silently for the first 10 points scored during Wednesday's boys basketball game against Roseville. The Roseville team has agreed to do the same.

A celebration of life for Morgan Helman will be held at 2:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 11 at Bayside Church in Granite Bay.  No services have been scheduled yet for Vivian Conner.