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Emotions rise after Firestone removes memorial honoring 3-year old boy from local park

Town says it will review process
Posted at 7:41 PM, Mar 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-14 10:14:03-04

FIRESTONE, Colo. -- Yellow balloons and flowers now adorn a park bench in Firestone's Harney Park.

They were placed there Tuesday, after work crews removed a more permanent memorial, honoring a 3-year old boy, which turned out to be not so permanent.

The original stone memorial was installed on the west edge of the park, alongside a trail in memory of Daniel Sutton, who died in a window blind cord accident 8 years ago.

Daniel’s mom, Andrea, said Daniel loved playing in the park.

Family friend Trent John said the original memorial was a community effort.

"It was put here because we ached," John said. "We hurt as a community. Our hearts were shattered."

He said his son built the memorial as a Scout project.

"The memorial was approved by everybody it needed to be approved by," he said. "It was designed by members of the staff of the town of Firestone."


On January 24, Town Manager Bruce Nickerson, told the Board of Trustees that he was getting complaints about the memorial.

"They are afraid that it really looks like a grave site and a tombstone," he said. "That's not the spirit and intent of the memorial, nor the spirit and intent of the Firestone Trail."

Nickerson added, “It might be wise to just remove the memorial since they don’t live in Firestone anymore.”

The Town Board changed the ordinance to require a more uniform look to memorials.

Work crews removed the memorial Monday morning, with the intention of replacing it.

That didn’t sit well with Mr. John, or with the Sutton family.

“The heart and soul of our community got ran over and it was grossly mishandled,” John said.

“It’s extremely hurtful,” Andrea Sutton said, during a video phone interview. “Over the last 8 years, we’ve gone to visit (the memorial) hundreds of times.”

John was so upset by the sudden removal that he called Nickerson.

“I heard him out.  He knows how I feel, and he knows that complaints are coming,” John said.

Sutton, who has since moved to Berthoud, told Denver7 that she thought there would be Board of Trustees vote during the March 14 meeting. 

Knowing that she was going to be on vacation, she said she specifically asked to be notified if there was going to be a vote, because she was willing to fly back to Colorado to attend if that were the case.

Yesterday she learned it was already a done deal.

“I woke up Monday morning and saw that a friend had sent me some pictures showing the memorial had been removed,” she said.

Assistant Town Manager Jennifer Weinberger sent an email to Denver7 stating, “The memorial replacement process has begun, and the replacement Sutton memorial will be installed in the next 3-4 weeks.”

Election Issue

“The Board of Trustees know that this is going to be a hot political item, coming up for re-election,” John said. “If anyone is okay with how this got handled, we don’t want you in leadership in our town.”

John said he plans to attend the Wednesday night meeting and request that an emergency ordinance be passed to undo the damage to the Sutton family.

Weinberger told Denver7, "We are sorry that this process caused any hurt or confusion for the Sutton family. In our meetings, we have had great discussions and progress on the new memorial and look forward to having that new memorial in place."

When asked where the original memorial is, Weinberger replied, “The old memorial with the yellow brick pavers has been removed and is being stored safely until we can coordinate a delivery date with the Sutton family.”

She said the Town of Firestone and Andrea had agreed that the town would deliver these “at no expense” to the family.