HAMILTON: Extravagant Roadside Memorials Are Dangerous and Must Go

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By: Ken Hamilton


An infectious smile, a rescuer of small animals, he’s someone who lost his life while loving the same.  That’s how two of Tommy Burket’s personal friends described the 23-year old man to me. How could your heart not go out to girlfriend Ashlyn Allen for her loss of such a wonderful guy? Burket was killed Sunday, August 25th, 2019 in a motorcycle collision on Pine Avenue near Packard Court – just several yards from where a year earlier on April 11th, 55-year-old Alvin King was the victim of a hit and run.

 However, King languished and died at Erie County Medical Center some 5 months later. His family still feels the sting of their loss, but the simple memorial to King is a living one that resides in the red rose petals of their hearts and in the lilies of their memories; seemingly nothing compared to the one that Ashlyn has erected in memory of her Tommy. While Ashlyn’s is physically larger and   more extravagant than  the gentle one of King’s, hers is one that is more likely to cause another family to lose a loved one in that very same spot as yet another driver hurls  through a red light  and hits an automobile – possibly with babies in it – as that driver is distracted by Burket’s behemoth of  bereavement. 

 While any such roadside memorials are a distraction to drivers, extravagant roadside memorials are dangerous and they must go. How much worse will Ashlyn feel, and how little honored would the spirit of Tommy be, not if, but when such a catastrophe occurs because of it?

 The Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council’s management system measures traffic counts in Erie and Niagara County.  Their 2013 data shows that the short westbound stretch of Pine Avenue, where the Chevy Suburban reportedly went through the red light at the intersection where it crisscrosses the eastbound lane of Pine Avenue, through which Burket was riding his motorcycle, is the 3rd busiest stretch of road in the city. It has an annual average of daily traffic numbering 24,000 vehicles.

 The Niagara Expressway’s 2011 data barely doubles that at 56,000 vehicles; and the traffic that stream by TOPS International on Niagara Falls Blvd comes in 2nd at 27,000 vehicles.

 But both the I-190 and the area at the 56th Street bridge is better designed and safer than the area in front of Packard Court. There is nowhere on those two roads that they cross themselves.

 As you can see, aside from the broadness of Niagara Falls Blvd and the distances between dedicated pedestrian crossings in the LaSalle section of town, there is no street more dangerous than the one in front of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority’s Packard Court, where the pedestrian King, and motorcyclist Burket, both lost their lives.

 Burket’s monumental and ever-changing memorial is more apt to increase the chances of another unfortunate death than it is to save even one life.

 It’s time for the city to see that it is properly and safely dismantled.

 Nonetheless, my heart still goes out to Ashlyn – all while not wanting her heart to be broken by, in essence, needlessly causing yet another death.


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  1. Peggy Bartolomei says:

    Yes, all roadside memorials must go! Most are ugly and a distraction.
    This is why we have cemeteries. Go there and place your flowers and grieve.

  2. Hi, you actually are incorrect about all your info and I don’t appreciate my name being on here ! Thanks

  3. Interesting how you seem to get off on upsetting people with your writing. By your logic, anything worth looking at shouldn’t be near the roads. No. I disagree and you provided no scientific evidence that large memorials increase the chances of an accident. This is disappointing, disgusting, and false. If anything, Niagara Falls needs to work on making the intersection safer. I see people fly through there going over 45 mph in their cars and that is the problem: not a memorial. How dare you.

  4. Ashlyn Allen says:

    first of all, he belittled the death of another person and then states that a memorial is going to kill another person?
    if that was the case then let’s also get rid of billboards and flashy signs, or fancy store fronts ??? nobody’s house is allowed to have pretty gardens either !! “possibly with babies in it” this guy should lose his credibility just for writing such a ridiculous thing.

  5. This is how the family friends and girlfriend morn the loss of there loved one. There is multiple memorials out there in a the world and no one saying anything about them. But you think your opinion is right? You’re far from right. There needs to be better lighting more traffic lights slower speed signs. This is straight bullshit. So there shouldn’t be lights on houses? Bright lit up billboards. After this has been going on for months with no justice you can want to take away the one thing that makes everyone be able to grieve and reminisce on the times that he was here. You’re a foul person

  6. Tommy’s family decorates the memorial for every holiday in remembrance of their son, brother, grandchild that they lost due to reckless driving OF ANOTHER PERSON. Some people only have this memorial to remember tommy by. I think it is disgusting and wrong to take that away, and the POV this article is written it seems vicious towards Ashlyn who lost the love of her life that day and as though trying to make her feel guilty for having a memorial for him. The city of niagara falls needs to work on making the intersection safer, not taking down a memorial for a loved one lost, the way this was written was disgusting and hateful towards ashlyn. Have sympathy.

  7. Amber Olszewski says:

    I don’t understand how someone could even have that state off mine to remove something so beautiful. I completely disagree with this and I think this is utter bullshit. For months the family has gone with out justice and to put up even having the idea on removing the memorial is unacceptable. Gardens are distracting, pink house are distracting, statues are distracting, advertisement signs are distracting, and the list goes on. But for someone to target the memorial but yet these are all around is outlandish. Drivers should be aware of their surroundings at all times. Being other drivers and all around them. To blame a few pots of flowers and signs as a distraction is ridiculous. I hope you know NOBODY is going to stand with this idea. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  8. Fran MUNSCHAUER says:

    Tommy Burket’s memorial is a great reminder to be careful DRIVING…What about his family? His girlfriend??? Tommy Burket has deeply grieving family that includes MaryEllen Burket, Paul Burket, Abby Burket and Pauly Burket. This reporter is way off track and must be bored having no real news to share with the public!!! Many observers have really been inspired to DRIVE CAREFULLY AND TO FOLLOW THE LAW!!!!

  9. Fran MUNSCHAUER says:

    BOYCOTT READING THIS RIDICULOUS CLAIM..Maybe they should focus on the “real” news= Coronavirus!!!! And do not compare victims of terrible accidents..HOW DISRESPECTFUL!!!!

  10. Fran MUNSCHAUER says:

    A woman commented how thankful she was to see Tommy Burket’s Memorial..explaining that though her child becomes excited each time they pass it, hoping that an Easter theme will be displayed, She was able to explain to him what had happened and how important it is to DRIVE CAREFULLY as well as, ability to protect himself!!!! PROTEST THIS AWFUL PERSON #KENHAMILTON, The Niagara Reporter

  11. Fran MUNSCHAUER says:

    #KENHAMILTON LEARN JOURNALISM: Tommy Burket’s memorial is a great reminder to be careful DRIVING in an area where many accidents occur without a memorial….What about his family? I see that a girlfriend is mentioned several times??? A reporter not contacting the family? Why… for a more sensational story?? Tommy Burket has deeply grieving family that includes MaryEllen Burket, Paul Burket, Abby Burket and Pauly Burket. This reporter is way off track and must be bored having no real news to share with the public because he needs to go back to LEARN JOURNALISM!!! Many observers have really been inspired to DRIVE CAREFULLY AND FOLLOW THE LAW!!!! NiAGARA FALLS ITSELF IS ONE BIG DISTRACTION DUE TO BEING MOST DANGEROUS CITY IN NY STATE!!!! #KenHamilton is BORED needing attention ..Cover “REAL:” NEWS” like How Tommy Burket has yet to receive Justice from this awful CITY…and the pandemic that IS killing AMERICANS!!!! This memorial may be SAVING LIVES!!!! #NiagaraReporter is disgusting!!!#CarolineWojtaszek, #Johngranchelli, Niagara Co. District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek, #ChristineMSavoia, #ChristineMSavoiaAssistantDistrictAttorney, The Action Niagara Falls,#NiagaraGazette, #NiagaraFallsStreetNews, #TheRealNiagarafallsStreetbeat, @Niagarareporter, #NiagaraReporter https://www.newsbreak.com/news/0OT0mEVf/hamilton-extravagant-roadside-memorials-are-dangerous-and-must-go?s=oldSite&ss=a99

  12. This guy Ed Hamilton is just a heartless uncaring idiot…..hopefully he won’t have to feel the pain and loss of a loved one from a tragic accident….but if so I wonder if he would still feel the same way? I think what this family does is a beautiful thing!!!!

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