BURLINGTON — A group plans to install a 16-foot-tall lighthouse monument in Burlington to honor victims of a 2012 boating crash and remind people of the potential dangers of the Mississippi River.
The Hawk Eye newspaper reports members of the group, called the River-Rat Safety Awareness Organization, expect the monument to arrive in the southeastern Iowa city today or Wednesday. The organization is working with officials to find the right spot for the lighthouse and will store it at a marina until next spring.
The lighthouse is a replica of a 19th century lighthouse. It has a 5-foot octagonal base and a permanent “glow light” atop the tower.
The safety organization was formed to remember those involved in an early morning crash May 19, 2012, of two small boats that were shuttling people from a sandbar to the shore. Four people died in the collision; eight survived.
Group member Louise Butherus, whose son, Matt House, died in the boating crash, said the lighthouse will be more than a memorial.
“Everybody that sees (the lighthouse) is going to have their own opinion of what it means to them,” Butherus said. “We hope it will bring awareness and a sense of responsibility to those who are on the river. For me, it’s going to remind me of my son and his friends. Some may see it as a memorial, but I think it’s going to mean more to me than just a memorial. It’s going to be a place for me to go and be close to my son.
Carlos Capdevila, whose teenage daughter died due to an illness in 2004, said the lighthouse will be a spot to remember victims of the boating crash and others who have died.
Capdevita said finding the right spot for the lighthouse is important because the hope is the memorial will prevent similar accidents in the future.
“We asked, ‘What can we put on the river as a reminder to boaters out there that 12 kids got in an accident, unfortunately, because they didn’t consider safety?’” Capdevila said. “Somehow, somewhere, somebody came up with the idea for a lighthouse.”
The roughly $20,000 needed to buy the lighthouse came from donations, including a large gift from the Milwaukee-based Harry and Virginia Murray Foundation. The M.J. Daly Construction Co. is donating supplies and services to build the memorial’s foundation.