Crashing Glass

The aftermath of a freak accident: shattered windows and two broken families

"We didn't do nothing!" he mutters. "Everybody knows it's not my fault. We are very honest people. I never did anything wrong to the customers."

Regardless of what actually transpired, the two insurance companies representing Shanghai Garden and the owner of the building settled with Sheila Fraser for $300,000 each, which again offers little solace to her.

At the Fraser household, Kemar is still a haunting presence.

Top: After Kemar was injured, he tried to make it home but collapsed in the street. 


Bottom left: The broken window was at least 20 years old. 


Bottom right: Kemar's wounds were lethal.
David W. Brill
Top: After Kemar was injured, he tried to make it home but collapsed in the street.

Bottom left: The broken window was at least 20 years old.

Bottom right: Kemar's wounds were lethal.

Top: Boarded-up windows at Shanghai Garden covered with goodbyes to Kemar 


Bottom: Alex Francois visits Kemar's grave to honor his 18th birthday.
Top: Boarded-up windows at Shanghai Garden covered with goodbyes to Kemar

Bottom: Alex Francois visits Kemar's grave to honor his 18th birthday.

Kemar's brothers, like Lailing, don't sleep well. Sheila thinks it's because they have not sought the solace of the cemetery. "They won't go. They said it was hard enough to lose him."

The brothers tell Sheila, "I can't see him like that." When she tries to speak to them about Kemar, "they just walk away," she says. "They're not ready to talk."

The jokes Kemar dispensed with ease are in short supply today. Kevon, who watched his brother die in front of him, taking off his own shirt in an attempt to stop the blood, is still struggling painfully to come to emotional terms with what happened. Only recently has he shown any interest in sports or his beloved PlayStation 2.

"I've got my eye on Kevon here," Kennedy says. "I called him into the office yesterday. He hasn't really talked -- to anyone. Counselors have tried to get him to open up, and he's like, 'I'm OK. '"

Kemar and his mother had planned to return to his birthplace next year for a visit. "He didn't know nothing about Jamaica," Sheila explains. "He wanted to know his family."

For Sheila, grief for her son is boundless. She relives, over and over, Kemar's final day.

She hadn't yet washed his gray Bob Marley T-shirt when he died, nor would she again. It was the only shirt of his that still carried his scent rather than detergent. Every day, just for a few minutes, Sheila puts it on to soak up as much as she can.

That day was a workday for Sheila, with a shift starting at 5 p.m. that didn't end until early Monday. But Sunday morning, she and Kemar drove to a fish market on Broward Boulevard to go shopping. Fish -- any kind of fish -- was another of Kemar's favorite foods.

Kemar spent the morning "laying on his back on the floor in front of the TV, as usual," Sheila says. If he wasn't playing basketball, he was watching it. No one else dared touch the set when Kemar was immersed in a close game, she says. "His foot was up on the TV set, as usual. He sucked on his finger, so he had his finger in his mouth," she chuckles. "As usual."

But he jumped at the chance to fix lunch. So he fired up the charcoal grill in the backyard -- no one liked the smell the fried fish left in the little house -- and set a pot of oil on the grate. After he'd cooked a batch, he and his mom sat under a tree in the yard and ate their last lunch together.

"He said, 'Mommy, you want me to help you or do anything else?'" Sheila remembers. He wanted to go shoot hoops at Riverland Elementary but told her he'd be back before she left for work at 5 o'clock.

After the accident, Kevon told Sheila that Kemar might have been trying to say something as he lay in the street. He wasn't sure.

"Why didn't you put your ear down to his mouth to try to hear?" Sheila asked him.

Kevon said he didn't know he could do that.

"Maybe," Sheila says, "he was trying to say, 'Call Mommy. '"


After a few hours at the cemetery, Sheila dusts off her colorful scrubs, slides her loafers back on, and starts to walk back to her car. Suddenly she turns around, walks back to Kemar's grave, and places a red-and-white box of crispy KFC wings atop the headstone.

"I'm gonna leave, baby -- I'll see you tomorrow, OK?" she murmurs.

"Can I leave this here for Kemar?" she asks a passing groundskeeper. "He always loved these."

He smiles, shrugs his big shoulders, and says, "Of course you can, Mrs. Fraser. You do whatever you want. He's your baby."

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