The Texas Department of Transportation is taking down more than a hundred DWI memorial signs across the state, and at least one local family is devastated. The signs began appearing in 2007 when victims’ families were given the opportunity to pay $300 to have the signs erected on the roadside where their loved one died. They assumed the signs would serve as a reminder for years to come. However, recent legislation placed a two year limit on how long the signs could remain posted. TxDOT said it was because the signs are a distraction and they are coming down for now, at least.
The family of a Meghann Smith gathered on the side of SH 105 West at Sapp Road on Monday to watch as the sign bearing their daughter Meghann’s name was removed. Meghann was only 18 when she was killed by a drunk driver on October 26, 2008. The family gathered at the same spot in April 2009 when the sign was erected, reading “PLEASE DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. In memory of Meghann Smith, Oct. 26, 2008”
On Monday, Meghann’s mother, Margaret Smith wept openly as the sign was removed.
“Bringing it down just pierces my heart,” Smith said.
“I know you’re just doing your job,” she told the TxDOT employ removing Meghann’s sign, “But it breaks my heart to see this come down.”
Smith said she was excited when she first heard they could purchase one of the signs because she believed it would remind people of what happened to Meghann and might prevent people from drinking and driving. She was in disbelief upon learning the sign would be removed.
“The signs all over Texas are coming down, and it’s not just my heart that’s breaking,” Smith said.
Smith spoke with two other distraught mothers Monday morning, she said, and she knew there were a lot more families out there hurting just like hers.
“My heart’s already broken, but we’re fighting it,” Smith said.
A mother in Mineral Wells has started a petition to keep the signs up permanently. The Smith family has joined the effort and is asking others to do likewise.
Click the following link to sign the petition: “SIGNON.ORG”