Highway Department Removes Crosses at Crittenden Site of Tour Bus Crash

NOVEMBER 5, 2004 - Posted at 7:22 a.m. CST,  updated at 1:53 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Memorial crosses placed at the site of a tour bus crash off Interstate-55 that killed 15 people last month have been removed by Arkansas highway officials.

Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department work crews took the crosses down Thursday, saying they pose a possible hazard.

Department spokesman Randy Ort says it wasn't an easy decision to take the crosses down, but state law bans obstructions in highway rights of way.

The National Transportation Safety Board still is investigating the October 9 accident.

The crosses were put at the site by Greg Zanis, who operates the Chicago-area group Crosses for Losses.  Zanis and his wife Susan began the organization after Susan's father was murdered in 1996.  Zanis says he's upset that the crosses have been removed, and that he was planning to add a 15th cross to the site when he learned that the others had been taken away.  The 15th victim died at a Memphis hospital earlier this week.

Zanis says the crosses were at least 300 feet off the highway and he feels their removal was an intrusion on his freedom of religion.

 (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)