Crosses vanishing at memorial to fallen Hillsborough firefighter - WFLA News Channel 8

Crosses vanishing at memorial to fallen Hillsborough firefighter

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Helen Gennusa says she just wants to pay respect to her son, but says someone is interfering with that and she can't understand why.

On June 5, 2011, 35-year-old Michael Gennusa Jr. veered off the road and hit a utility pole. He was killed instantly.

Gennusa was a Hillsborough County firefighter and paramedic. “He saved a lot of lives,” his mother says.

The day of his funeral, the family says they placed a simple wooden cross at the utility pole where he died. Michael's daughters placed a teddy bear, and others in the community put flowers on the spot.

But, the memorial soon disappeared.

"I just wanted something there. Not that we frequent this site, it's not a happy place for us, but I felt something of respect," said Helen.

The family then came back with a metal cross and anchored it in cement at the site where the memorial remained for a year and a half.

On several occasions, they came back and found the cross was bent, but still in the ground. Then one day, it was gone.

"The cross and the three hundred pounds of cement were yanked out of the ground," Helen Gennusa explains.

The family spoke with the crew that cuts the grass in the area and even the Homeowners Association of the adjacent neighborhood. They didn't know who disturbed the memorial.

The family got a new cross, a stronger cross, and anchored it in 700 pounds of cement.

The effort took most of the day, they had to dig a large hole and bring in bottles of water for the cement. They waited for the cement to dry and as they did, the family says they got honks and waves of support from passing drivers.

However, less than 24 hours later, the cross was gone, Helen Gennusa says.

The family says they've heard from people in the neighborhood that one man has a problem with any signs or markers being placed on the side of the road in the public right of way.

They've also placed American Flags at the utility pole only to find them missing within hours.

Helen says she doesn't want to know who the person is who is removing the memorials and she doesn't want any harm to come to him.

She knows people in the community are angry at a person who would remove the memorial, but she just wants this person to stop.

"I want him to leave us alone and I want people, possibly to learn a lesson that these simple crosses, or these simple memorials, mean something drastic to people's loved ones,” said Helen.

The family says a local welding company is donating a new cross, a thicker and even heavier cross. They hope this one can't be cut and will not be removed.

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