(WICHITA, Kan.) — A roadside memorial for a dead teenager contained signs and notes. Until this weekend, Austin Pollock's memorial also had a decorated Christmas tree on display where he crashed his car - near K-96 and Oliver in Northeast Wichita.
For the last two months, signs memorialized the 18 year old who died here. But on Monday, a new sign joined the others. "We put up a sign," said Brooke Jefferson, "that says 'Bring Back My Christmas Tree', signed by A.P."
A.P. Stands for Austin Pollock, who died after crashing near the intersection of K-96 and Oliver in northeast Wichita in October. Investigators say he was speeding when he ran into a light pole.
"It's going to be the first Christmas that he's not going to be with his family," said another friend of Pollock's, Andrew Ritthaler. "So we brought the tree out here because he will be remembered this Christmas."
Friends and family decorated the tree with handmade ornaments. They placed it on a metal pole behind a role of the memorial's signs. And that is where it stood until this weekend, the last one before Christmas.
"I was hoping it was his family that took it, honestly," said Ritthaler. "Because I had, deep in my heart, a little bit of pain in my heart for someone who would honestly go out and take a tree from someone's memorial site.'
Jefferson echoed those sentiments. "I hope whoever took it has a family and maybe they're poor and they need it. And I hope that they enjoy it, because it was a part of us, no matter what. It was a part of Austin."
Friends may put up another tree, or they may wait for the first to be returned - as the sign politely asks.
"I know he wants his tree back," said Ritthaler, referring to his friend Austin. "So we just put would you please bring our tree back."
But if it does not appear before Christmas day, that's okay too. "I hope they get as much joy out of it as all our friends and family have," said Ritthaler.