TWIN FALLS — Some are bold, with wreaths of colorful flowers and lights that catch drivers’ eyes.
Others are subtle, 20 yards from the road, nestled in the sagebrush, out of sight except to those looking for them.
Most have the names of the drivers and passengers who lost their lives. But some are blank — anonymous pillars of grief and remembrance, providing silent reminders to drive safely.
But accidents aren’t the only cause of the fatalities behind the markers.
In 2009, Brenda Aguayo’s cousin, Guy Miller Jr., sent a text to his sister.
“You get Jo Jo,” it read.
He then turned Jo Jo, his dog, loose at the top of Yingst Road and drove his car off the north rim of the Snake River Canyon.
Miller Jr. was distraught over the breakup of his marriage, Aguayo said.
Shortly after his death, Miller’s family erected a cross on Yingst Road. It is adorned with pieces of his jewelry, miniature Green Bay Packers helmets and a small fishing pole.
Family members often visit the site to maintain the area. Almost every time they visit, Aguayo said, they notice some sign of vandalism.
“They’ve put in solar lights and people keep stealing them,” Aguayo said.
“It’s somebody’s memorial to somebody they love,” said Guy Miller, who lost his son.
Some might say it’s just kids being kids, but Miller doesn’t buy that excuse.
What kind of parents, he wondered, would fail to teach their child to respect another person’s things, especially a memorial?
“This is a special spot because this is where he ended,” Miller said.
Aguayo and Miller said they’ve found pieces from the memorial tossed onto the road below. They’ve seen beer cans strewn near the cross and found tire tracks nearby. And they’ve even found the cross pulled two or three inches out of the box it’s in.
“They don’t steal my cousin’s fishing pole or his necklaces,” Aguayo said. “I don’t know what they’re trying to do.”
Soon, the family will approach the Jerome County Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for permission to put in a small park with benches in the area.
“We already pick up trash here,” Miller said.
Miller said he’s already had benches made with a plaque in memory of his son, but he’s afraid to put them out for fear they’ll be vandalized or stolen.