HILTON HEAD, S.C. (WSAV) – She died tragically a little over a year ago, but 11-year-old Charli Bobinchuck’s memory lives on through her friends and family.
They set up a memorial area near her home in Yacht Cove, complete with a bench with some of Charli’s favorite words, including “peace and love,” and an angel statue.
What you won’t find anymore is a variety of stuffed animals, wooden sculptures and various items placed there by kids who knew Charli. That’s because the Property Owner’s Association (POA) had them all taken away and placed in trash bags at the Bobinchuck’s door.
“I came home from work and I saw a landscaper over here at my daughter’s memorial and I clearly saw him moving stuff around,” remember’s Bryan Bobinchuck, Charli’s dad. “He felt terrible, he’s like, ‘I’m sorry to be doing this job, I’m so sorry,’ and he said it over and over and over again. Then I walked to my house and there was literally all this stuff that people had set on her memorial in trash bags set on my front porch.”
Two trash bags full of items that were placed at the memorial site to honor Charli, who was hit by a car crossed Highway 278 a little over a year ago.
“It was very insulting,” said Bobinchuck. “Obviously when you lose someone there is already a lot of hurt there and you try to work through it. And when you see stuff that people have put with good intentions bagged up like a pile of trash, it hurts for sure.”
The Bobinchucks say they’ve never gotten any complaints about the site. They went to neighbors first to ask if it was okay to have a memorial in the public area.
In fact, neighbors Wednesday already started putting things back on the memorial after they heard what happened.
“This isn’t just about Charli,” said Daisy Bobinchuck, Charli’s mom. “It’s become a little safe haven for everyone to come to have a little play or have a little prayer and it still is. They can take the stuff but we will still have the strongness of this neighborhood.”
“There are a lot of kids in this neighborhood who knew Charli personally,” explains Daisy Bobinchuck. “So they took this personally.
“It’s the saddest thing I’ve seen all year,” said Tom Beattie, who lives in Yacht Cove. “For the Yacht Cove community, Charli was the heart of it.”
Yacht Cove POA Vice President Bruce Pitkin says the board never had a problem with the memorial. They paid $1000 for the bench in Charli’s honor.
But the site got “tacky” and “trashy” and several neighbors did complain about the Memorial’s look.
“We just need the tacky stuff taken down,” said Pitkin. “Wet rabbits and stuffed animals and deflated balloons and plastic flowers. It looked pretty rough.”
He added that the neighbors who complained had no problem with the memorial bench and statue.
“It is the other kids’ stuff, the toys, and other kids stuff, flowers, plastic men. There’s stuffed boa constrictors, a hanging garden,” said Pipkin.
The POA VP says Bobinchuck was warned about the condition of the memorial site. He says Bryan was talked to by the POA President and that Bryan agreed to clean off the stuffed animals, pinwheels, etc by June, after the first anniversary fo Charli’s death.
When that didn’t happen, the board claims an email was sent to the Bobinchuck’s and then a letter, a copy of which was sent to WSAV, detailing the need to get rid of the “trashy” items.”
That letter did have Bobinchuck’s address spelled incorrectly, which could have led to a mailing issue.
“You and I would be so lucky to have benches and monuments and parks named after us,” said Pipkin. “But after a year, let us go back to my comment, it looked trashy. How long should a stuffed rabbit be in the rain moldy and dirty before someone picks it up.”
Charli’s dad said he never had a conversation with anyone from the board, never got an email or a letter, and didn’t expect trash bags full of memorial items on his porch.
“We will come every couple of days and clean up some candles that are burnt out or if there’s any litter there we will pick it up,” said Bobinchuck. “A lot of people will do that too, a lot of neighbors will help. it always stays clean.”
“Is it possible he didn’t get the email? Yes,” said Pipkin. “Is it possible he didn’t get the letter? Yes. Is it possible he didn’t talk to the President? No. No. Did he promise to have it out by June? Yes.”
The Bobinchucks say they are angry and disappointed. Several board members have already apologized to the couple for what happened and claim they didn’t know about the mandate to clean up. One POA board member even resigned over the issue.
The family has planned an event at the same site inside Yacht Cove Friday night at 6 p.m. It’s called #BeKindLikeCharli and Honor Good in our Community. Everyone has been invited.
“Let’s treat each other with kindness,” said Bobinchuck. “She wanted to be kind to the earth, kind to her neighbor, kind to a stranger, kind to a homeless person. We are to the point we can recognize the insensitivity here.”