HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - In a post that has over 500 likes, shares and comments, one Hilton Head Island father said he was stunned to find black trash bags on his porch yesterday. In them, parts of a memorial to his late daughter.
Charli Bobinchuck was eleven when she was hit and killed by a car near her neighborhood entrance. A tree near her home served as a memorial and a gathering place for her neighborhood friends.
“Charli was a really kind person. I would say that was- if she had a mantra, it was kindness," said Bryan Bobinchuck. "I think that’s probably the hardest part about this is she was so kind, and this seemed like such a very unkind way to handle something.”
Bobinchuck said when he found things that neighbors had left at his daughter’s memorial in trash bags on his porch last night, it brought up memories of losing his only child all over again
“Sometimes we forget that we’re neighbors. We’re part of a community, part of a neighborhood, you know, if you want it to look a certain way as a HOA or something like that, lets get together and do it together, so that we’re all on the same page,” he added.
The Yacht Cove Home Owners’ Association’s Rules and Regulations page doesn’t explicitly say anything about memorials, but the Vice President of the HOA says they got multiple complaints about it.
The HOA says they notified Byran Bobinchuck in person about the changes to the memorial, then via email, and then this letter dated July 15th.
WTOC was not given the meeting minutes when this was voted on or discussed.
Bobinchuck says he didn’t receive the email or letter.
“I had been told to, hey, lets be sure and keep it tidy, and so I come over here on a daily basis and make sure there’s no trash or anything like that, but as kids- as far as the stuffed animals and things go, you know what I mean, that’s kids bringing that stuff over, you know what I mean? Who am I to say alright, little Stacey’s, you know, stuffed sheep- it’s time to go.”
HOA Vice President Bruce Pitkin declined to speak with us on camera, but did allow us to record the conversation.
He says the makeshift memorial was not tasteful.
“This is not a cemetery. This is a residential community people drive by and look at all the time. It’s a sad situation, but it was a year ago. It was a year ago, you know?”
Pitkin claimed that all of the board members approved the letter before it was sent to the Bobinchuck family, but board member Charlie Warner confirmed to WTOC in a voicemail that he did NOT receive it and actually resigned from the HOA last night over the situation.
The HOA President, Rich LaLiberty is out of town , but sent us the following statement:
This is is a horrible situation made worst buy the attention now fueling it. Early on the board recognized this was a very sensitive matter and has handled it as such. No one would intentionally try to dishonor the memory of Charli or the Bobinchuck family, they have endured enough. The community has rallied around this family, in memory of her life one of our Board members donated his time to build a tribute bench that was permanently placed in the common area with Charlies own words engraved. In addition a neighboring community honored Charli with a Bronze statue which we thought fitting and choose to leave it at the side of the bench.
On several occasions Board members reached out to the family to let them know our intentions and discuss the issue which was that we would be picking up the remaining items in the common area especially around the tree as it was coming up on a year. These board members that chose to do this were also personal friends of the Bobinchucks so as to lend the most support, sensitivity and judgment as needed. No one was ever sure what enough time is but we as a board wanted to wait at least and after the first anniversary and that's what we did. With some board input the letter was drafted and approved. I asked that it be sent to the Bobinchucks via Bryan's personal e-mail. I think the letter shows the sensitivity from the board and reflected the community values.
I spoke to our landscaper and asked that he pick up the area and place any items remaining on or near the tree to the Bobinchucks home, I had hoped to provide a container but it happen faster than expected. I am finding out too that perhaps an owner chose to help with the task and may not have been as sensitive when placing the materials at the Bobinchucks home. I am looking in to that.
I am traveling for business in Asia, I was alerted to this situation when reviewing my personal e-mails late last night and in talking a call from one of our board members not to mention when my phone started lighting up at 1:25 this morning. I take this extremely serious along with our other board members and wanted to respond but most of all apologize to the Bobinchuck's or anyone who could think that this was done purposefully, it could not be further from the truth.
There will always be those that will seek to divide us or share their own spin without the necessary facts, information and believing they know what happened because someone said it did. Yes, someone picked up the remaining tribute materials in the common area, Yes, it was improperly placed in bags and left at the family's home. Yes, someone other than just the landscaper helped. Yes, we will purchase a container for any future items left behind and work with the family to locate it at their home. Board positions are not enviable, we live in community and serve as best as we can, we have a duty to enforce the rules and regulation and covenants even when difficult.
I assure you the boards intentions here have never been anything less than honorable. I am saddened that any one could thing less. As President I take full responsibility for our shortcoming and failure to place the bags or material in a proper container. The negative attention does not serve the community well or honor the memory of Charli. I only wish the someone who called the media would have started with me and given us a chance to be made aware not to mention the opportunity to make it right, because that's who we are in Yacht Cove.
Charli left us much to early and this does nothing to honor her memory.
Tuesday night all that was left was Charli’s memorial bench, purchased by the HOA, and a statue. Wednesday afternoon, the bags were still sitting in front of Bobinchuck’s home.
Since the Facebook post, neighbors have brought things back to the memorial.