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Angel Memorial Tree Returns to Marina

Angel Tree
KION

MARINA, Calif. (KION) - A Marina woman is raising awareness about the deadly consequences of distracted driving with an annual tradition celebrating their lives.

At first glace, it may look like a typical Christmas display, but when you look a bit closer you'll see it's a celebration of life.

Each photo on the various trees are in the shapes of angels and they represent someone who lost their life in a distracted driving or drinking and driving crash.

Joanne Higgins has been putting up the memorial Christmas trees in her front yard for the past 4 years.

"It's been rewarding.. but it's been sad at the same time," she says.

December 2, 2015 was a day that changed Joanne's life forever after he lost her nephew in a fatal crash as he was taking a video of himself on his cell phone.

"My nephew Tyler Smedley, 22 years old, was driving home from work and less than a mile from his house he pulled out his phone and decided to do a video selfie," Higgins says.

That video, just six seconds, was the last seconds of Tyler's life.

"When I saw the pictures of his crash and everything I thought I had to do something but when I saw the video he made the last six seconds of his life I knew I had to do something," Higgins says.

That's when Higgins began her Global Memorial Christmas Trees with 1 tree and 60 photos. It's been growing every year.

"It was so important to me to get his word... to get his voice heard... and then it just took on a life of it's own and I started to want to represent other families," Higgins says.

Now, Higgins has five trees on display and about 420 angels are on the memorial, remembering their lives and the tragic way they left us.

"It's just heart breaking.. it really is heartbreaking to me. But, I do what I do for everybody, for them, it's what I do and what I want to do," Higgins says.

Central Coast / Holidays / Monterey County / Top Stories
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Max Tarlton

Max Tarlton is a morning anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.

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