Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Mother watches tree that served as memento for son's deadly crash finally removed

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BATON ROUGE - A dying tree on Industriplex Boulevard off Siegen Lane is the last to be removed from the median, and it's emotional for Dee Babin.

"This tree was the last place my son took his last breath," Babin said.

Twenty years ago, Babin's son, Jakob Chapman, hydroplaned into this very tree and died. Since that day, she has been returning to the spot regularly.

"I would always put wreaths every holiday, and it's become well known around here," she said.

Babin says she comes here more often than her son's grave.

"When I look at his headstone and see his name and his dates... I get more pleasure coming to the tree."

But that would all change when the city found out the trees were dying and needed to come out. David Benton with Bayou Tree Service left this one though.

"I felt a calling I guess, a reason to reach out and try to find that person and try to do something for them, because I knew that they lost a loved one there," Benton said.

When they found Dee Babin, she told them that she wanted to be there when they did it.

"It's time to let go, and that's what I'm doing," she said.

Tears fell as the tree was cut and pulled to the ground, but the tree and Jakob's memory will not be forgotten. Benton plans on turning the wood into something his mother can keep.

"As of right now that's our plan, to make some bowls for Ms. Babin in memory of their son," he said.


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