Broward News

Memorial Service Planned for Dalai Lama's Nephew in West Palm Beach

After a car accident killed Jigme Norbu as he walked down State Road A1A last week, his friends and supporters have continued their 300-mile walk for Tibetan independence along Florida's east coast.

The group, which has been joined by Norbu's brother and two of his sons, plans to end its journey this weekend with a memorial service in West Palm Beach.

Norbu, 45, was the nephew of the Dalai Lama and a longtime advocate for Tibetan freedom. He lived in Indiana with his wife and three young children but traveled around the country and the world, walking hundreds of miles to draw attention to his cause.

On the evening of February 14, he was on A1A about 25 miles south of St. Augustine,

completing the first leg of a 300-mile Valentine's Day "Walk for Tibet." As darkness fell, other members of his group got in a van and urged Norbu to do the same. But he insisted on completing the last two miles of the trek on foot. "For the cause," he said.

His friends drove ahead. Norbu walked on the side of the unlit highway, in the same direction as traffic. The area was dark and thick with trees, but Norbu wanted drivers to be able to see the sandwich-board "Walk for Tibet Florida" sign he was wearing, so he chose to stay on the asphalt instead of a nearby path, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Just before 7:30 p.m., a Kia SUV struck Norbu. He was dead by the time emergency responders arrived.

The Kia's driver, Keith O'Dell of Palm Coast, was not charged. A Florida Highway Patrol report indicates that alcohol was not a factor in the crash. O'Dell, 31, had his 3-year-old and 5-year-old sons in the car, but no one in the family was injured.

O'Dell could not be reached for comment; his publicly listed phone number is not in service.

Participants in the Walk for Tibet plan to arrive in West Palm Beach on Friday and will show the documentary "Little Monk" at Unity Church on South Flagler Drive that night. The film's director, Chaille Stovall of Miami, will lead a discussion about Tibet from 7 to 9 p.m.

On Saturday, a Buddhist memorial service for Norbu will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden, 253 Barcelona Road, West Palm Beach.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lisa Rab
Contact: Lisa Rab