Vernon and North Okanagan
Van Diest memorial walkway vandalized
Sep 7, 2013 / 9:59 am
Residents in Armstrong are having a hard time understanding why anyone would vandalize the beautiful community walkway that commemorates the life of Taylor Van Diest.
Users of the walkway were saddened by the news that one of two large sculpted angels was removed from the trail and smashed against the railway tracks sometime during the week of August 26.
“This is an emotional place. It’s actually been very good up until this incident and I just hope that people will have enough respect for the trail not to do these kinds of things,” says Jean, who walks the trail daily with friends, Debbie and Val.
The three women say that the incident has brought back a lot of bad memories for the community.
“What happened put the whole town in a state of fear. People were scared to go out at night,” said Debbie. “It was like a ghost town, everyone was so scared.”
Van Diest was just 18 when her life came to an abrupt and violent end on Halloween night in 2011.
Since that tragedy, the Van Diest family set out to honour Taylor’s life by constructing the Taylor Jade Van Diest Memorial Trail, which now runs alongside the railway tracks where she was brutally beaten and left for dead.
The project garnered exceptional support from the community, with many local residents and business donating time, supplies, and resources to help make the trail a reality. The trail was officially opened on June 23, 2013.
Neighbours say last week’s act of vandalism is heartbreaking. Maureen Arbuckle was out for her daily morning walk with her dog when she came across the smashed angel statue on the tracks.
“Everybody here keeps the trail in their daily life. We all keep an eye out and help where we can,” she said.
“Something like this is just re-hurting the family.”
Although they are continuing to investigate, police have said they do not believe the culprit to be local.
People in the community seem to agree.
“I find it hard to believe it was someone from Armstrong. Everyone in this community knows how special this place is,” said Arbuckle.
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