Nevada man knows anguish of lost memorials all too well
CARSON CITY – Bill Cronk said he knows the feeling of having someone steal a loved one’s roadside memorial.
He has replaced a memorial to his daughter three times in the four years since her death Jan. 1, 1996.
It’s not quite as bad as robbing a grave, he said Thursday, but it’s close.
Cronk, of Carson City, sympathizes with the Steadman family, which is grieving for Krystal, a 9-year-old South Lake Tahoe fourth-grader who was killed in March.
An impromptu memorial, set up in a turnout near U.S. Highway 50 at the site near where her body was found, grew into a mound of stuffed animals and other mementos. It was removed in October to make way for snowplowing.
A second memorial, a 4-foot wooden cross, was cemented in place Saturday, but was stolen by Monday.
Cronk knows what Krystal’s family is going through, because the memorial to his daughter was taken twice from alongside Topsy Lane just south of Carson City.
Cronk said there’s not much those who plan to erect another memorial can do about protecting it except pray nobody else pulls it out.
“It’s pretty close to jerking a grave stone out, in my opinion,” he said. “Why? That’s what I want to know. Somebody had to know. I even offered a $500 reward the last time, but nobody came forward.”
Cronk said his daughter Rachelle Marie Cronk Krites died after she was pushed from a moving truck on Topsy Lane.
“They say she jumped out of a truck,” he said. Cronk said he thinks his daughter became upset when one of the three men grabbed her and then one of them pushed her from the truck. The driver of the truck was sentenced to two years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident, but no charges were brought against the passengers.
“I just try to put this stuff behind me,” he said. “After it happened I went into a real deep depression and I don’t want to do that again. I think these people should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, as far as they can possibly go.”
Cronk said it must have taken a four-wheel-drive truck to remove the last memorial he built for his daughter.
“I poured almost a full yard of cement. I dug a hole this big, by this big,” he said making a box about 4-feet wide by 3-feet deep with his arms. “I filled a 5-gallon bucket with concrete and put six rods of No. 11 rebar through it going each way. Where’d it go? They didn’t leave it. I took out my router and put the day she died, the day she was born – and they just jerked it out.
“I get a little uptight about these things. A person’s life is their life. Then somebody wants to put something up to remember them and some (really foul language) tears it up or destroys it. It upsets me.”
Cronk said he’s willing to help rebuild Krystal’s memorial. Friends and family are making plans to replace the cross next to U.S. Highway 50. Donations may be made by calling (775) 883-1903. Extra money will be given to the Steadman family.
Packer, a member of the Reno Chapter of Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club, is organizing the construction of Krystal’s memorial. He and John Cobrae, owner of South Shore’s Tamarack Contruction who is donating material and labor for the project, met Sunday and went over design plans. They are expected to do the construction work Dec. 8 and have a ceremony to dedicate the memorial Dec. 9.
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