Against family's wishes, tree coming down at site of deadly crash

It is a gathering place for family and friends to remember two teens killed in a July crash. But, that memorial along Herr Lane, near Westport Village, may soon come down.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – It is a memorial in honor of the two lives lost a month ago. 

Eighteen-year-old Isaiah Basham and his 15-year-old girlfriend crashed into a tree on Herr Lane at Westport Village.

"Touching on the tree, it feels like you are connected with him," Imani Thompson said. 

Thompson comes to the tree to remember her lifelong friendship with Basham. But, the tree could be coming down soon.

A spokesperson for Westport Village says its health and integrity were compromised after the crash.  Thompson says that's not enough reason to get rid of it.

"Of course, nobody will ever understand, especially people wanting to cut the tree down because it's not their family," she told WHAS11.

"I put love you forever Zay. Long live Zay," Genesis Jackson said of her message on the tree. Jackson and many others have written their thoughts on the tree since the crash in mid-July. She also wants to keep the tree in place because to her, it's the only way to pay her respects.

"We have no other place to remember him at.  All we have is the tree," she said.

As work to remove the tree continues, some of Basham's closest friends promise if it is taken down, it won't keep them away.  For them, the emotional scars of the crash haven't healed. 

"It is hard to say that I'm having a good day because this has happened and it's never going to be okay," Thompson said.

Kelly Brown, General Manager of Westport Village told WHAS11 in statement:

"An arborist has determined that the health and integrity of the tree have been compromised and that it will unfortunately need to be removed for safety reasons.   Our thoughts and sympathies are with those grieving the loss of their loved ones.  We are in communication with the family so that they will have the opportunity, prior to the tree's removal, to collect personal items that now symbolize their grief.

As a mom, my heart breaks for Amie.  I can't imagine her pain.  When the tree comes down, we're going to create a commemorative memento from parts of the tree so that she will always have a way to feel close to Isaiah. In addition, we plan to make available wood shavings from the tree to family and friends of Isaiah and Lexee so that, they too, will have piece of the tree to bring them comfort."

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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