LAKE RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The state Department of Transportation has issued an apology to a Long Island family after a memorial garden dedicated to an 8-year-old girl with a terminal illness was destroyed by construction crews on Friday.
Danielle O’Connor said she was horrified to see the garden for her daughter suddenly gone after construction crews working on a Long Island Expressway overpass on Ronkonkoma Avenue bulldozed the garden and traffic median.
“I wanted to vomit; my stomach was in knots,” O’Connor told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “There was a giant dump truck with all of my plants; nothing there except a garbage bag.”
Her daughter, Emily, suffers from San Filippo Syndrome and the garden was dedicated to raise awareness about the fatal disease.
“It’s not like it’s just plants to us anymore, it had represented a piece of what Emily means to us and what Emily means to the community,” O’Connor said. “To have someone just level it, it’s like they’re just taking a piece of her and throwing her in the garbage. She’s nothing.”
The state Department of Transportation released a statement apologizing to the family.
“We apologize to the O’Connnor family and the community for the lack of communication regarding the removal of the median, which is necessary to maintain traffic during this project,” the statement read. “The department and the contractor met with the family over the weekend, and we have established a temporary garden while construction on the bridge continues.”
The department said they will fully restore the garden next spring once the construction work is completed.
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