Debbie and Garry Mason stand by a new a tribute to 19-month-old Tu Maia’s mum Horotia Brennan, who was killed in a crash almost one year ago.
Debbie and Garry Mason stand by a new a tribute to 19-month-old Tu Maia’s mum Horotia Brennan, who was killed in a crash almost one year ago. Luka Kauzlaric

Disappearing tribute adds to heartache after teen's death

TUESDAY marks one year since Gladstone mum Horotia Brennan, 19, was tragically killed in a crash on the Bruce Hwy at Benaraby.

Amid their grief, her family is also hoping it will see her memorial cross, a tribute to her last moments, still standing.

"Twice it (the cross) has been taken," Garry Mason, father of Horotia's partner Daniel, said.

"They haven't just smashed it and left it lying on the road, they've actually removed everything."

Mr Mason is at a loss to why someone would take exception to the tribute.

"We've got no idea," he said. "The original was there for almost 11 months. It wasn't touched and (now) coming into the anniversary month and twice it's gone."

Mr Mason and wife Debbie have contacted the local council and the Department of Transport and Main Roads to make sure there wasn't an official order for its removal.

Both organisations said they had not removed the tribute - and homeowners near the site have no issue with the memorial.

"There are other crosses around and they don't get touched. And Tia's disappears," Debbie said.

"It's pretty sad. It was really sad when we saw it."

The pair is now calm and determined, but at the time Mr Mason said he was shaking with anger.

"The second time was worse because we put a lot more effort into it. Put actual plants in it and a watering system across the back," he said.

The couple have implored the culprits to leave the new cross alone.

"If there is anyone out there that does find it offensive or have a problem with the cross there, by all means, contact us," Mr Mason said.

In the meantime, the family will continue building replacements.

"This time we've put a bigger cross. We just keep going bigger and we'll go bigger again if it goes missing," Mr Mason said.

"A lot of people say just go and look for a spot in the gardens, or go plant a tree somewhere.

"It's not the same. That was Tia's last moment."

Horotia's daughter Tu Maia is now 17 months old. The vivacious tot is a constant reminder of her bubbly mum.

"Deb and I are basically carers so Dan can still sustain his working life," Mr Mason said.

The family plans to have a small memorial to remember their "outgoing, lovely young girl".

"(We'll) just go and visit the cross as we do on any occasion, (and) I'm sure a lot of her friends will too," Mr Mason said.



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