ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – Families are in shock after the memorials they put up for their loved ones were vandalized. Descansos along the highway in Española have had their crosses and flowers taken, and in some cases, the whole memorial has been dug out. “It frustrates me that someone would be so disrespectful,” said Eli Trujillo, Española resident.
Levi Trujillo said his family put up a descanso in memory of his uncle, Martin Trujillo, who died in a car accident along US 84 near Espanola back in 2003. Trujillo says having a descanso was important for his family. “I think the descanso, and setting it up and building it and taking care of it was kind of a long-term closure for my dad,” says Trujillo.
On Tuesday, Trujillo was driving along US 84 when he noticed his uncle’s descanso was gone. He then noticed at least eight other descansos along the road were also missing or damaged.
Later in the evening, Trujillo said he stopped to help a man picking up a cross that was dragged about half a mile from its original location and left in the middle of the road. Trujillo said the man was emotional. “I thought you know why would someone want to put that much effort into destroying something that’s important to someone else,” said Trujillo.
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It turns out, the Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Office had gotten a call a day earlier about another descanso that had been stolen, along that same stretch. According to a police report, this descanso had been completely destroyed and personal mementos stolen. “Not only are they hurting the families but they’re making our community look bad. People see that whenever they pass through to go to tourist attractions or whatnot, they notice the destroyed memorial sites,” said Rio Arriba Patrol Deputy, Ernesto Giron.
The Sheriff’s Office said vandalizing the descansos is a crime and whoever is behind it could face charges. Trujillo said he just wants it to stop. “I feel that it’s important that the community knows because all these descansos are fallen members of our community,” said Trujillo.
Deputies ask if anyone else has had their descanso vandalized, to make an official report with the sheriff’s office.