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Grieving Family Receives Shock on 'The Rock'

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Accident: Message changes on White Rock landmark

By Tris DeRoma

It’s been just a little more than two weeks since an auto accident on N.M. 4 claimed the life of high school freshman Nikolas Ventura-Arencon.

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Friends and relatives of the young man received a bit of a shock recently when they drove by “The Rock” in White Rock.

A message they wrote on the rock to their departed friend was gone. In place of the big “Goodbye Nik” message on the rock’s front face, was an even bigger “Marty makes 40 look sporty.”

Also gone were the flowers and other items that friends and family brought to Nik’s makeshift memorial. It’s not clear whether whoever painted over it moved everything to the site of the accident on N.M. 4, but the red booster chair that was part of the memorial at the rock, has been moved to the roadside tribute.

A passerby who saw the memorial wasn’t surprised.

“That’s just the nature of the rock,” the passersby said. “It gets painted over all the time.”

Ventura’s uncle Bernie Herrera, had a different take. He said his sister-in-law, Jennifer Ventura-Trujillo, (Ventura’s mom) is devastated that someone would do that so soon, and that the entire family is really hurt.

“It just seems to me that it’s very rude and disrespectful for someone to go and do that at such a heart-wrenching time for the family,” Herrera said. “For someone to do that, especially when the whole community knew about it, I think is awful. I myself am disappointed and hurt.”

While Ventura’s family and friends realize the rock belongs to the community and not to them, it still felt wrong that someone should do that so soon, Herrera said.

“We all know that it’s not Jennifer’s (Ventura’s mother) rock or private property, but a little bit more time, considering Christmas is coming up, and his birthday on the 28th ... I’d just thought we could all have just a little more time.”
Council Chair Sharon Stover sympathized with the Ventura family.

“I know there is a memorial down on N.M. 4. I feel bad for the family. I know they are devastated and hurting as well,” she said. “I go by there all the time. People just self-regulate and you have no idea when it is going to get painted.”

However, as the passerby also noted, the hard truth is that there is no board or permitting agency that regulates when the rock gets painted.