Reported and written by Sarah Butrymowicz and Alec Johnson
The day after a 17-year-old was killed by joyriding teens who crashed a stolen car, the police line tape lay limply across the sidewalk and the accident scene was void of life. A destroyed bumper, headlight and side view mirror were strewn among a smattering of broken glass and plastic. Meanwhile, six blocks away, at the Rosedale Avenue house where Keon Nedd lived with his mother and four siblings, his family and friends sat around in mismatched chairs talking quietly, still describing him in the present tense.
A row of candles, with messages to Keon scrawled on the glass holders sits in front of the metal fence in front of his home. Behind them stand empty alcohol bottles, transformed into vases for blue and pink carnations and a single dying yellow rose.
More candles are set up in a cardboard box turned on its side. The box is now an integral part of the memorial though, covered in messages like “Your gone but nevah forgotten.” A sharpie lies on top, inviting others to contribute.
Keon, a tenth grader at Columbus High School was on his way home from a party early Monday morning, when a car crossing Seward Avenue on White Plains Road lost control and flipped on to the sidewalk, killing him. The car had been stolen from its owner earlier that day, and the driver and passengers fled the scene after the accident, his family said. Police would not provide additional details.
His grandmother, Carol Harris George, last saw Keon three days ago, when she dropped by his house to give him some money. She raised Keon until he was seven, and still carries his nine-year-old photo in her wallet. “I still can’t catch myself,” she said. “I haven’t eaten since the accident.”
George is trying to decide where to hold the funeral; she’s worried her church isn’t large enough. “That church is not going to fit all of his friends,” she said.
Many of these friends gathered in the driveway and even more were upstairs. Keon, who loved Jamaican music, was the joker of the group, they said. “He was a clown who used to live next door,” Mariah Hueston said. “He was always happy no matter what and he loved to play fight.”
Keon’s cousin, Anthony Bryant, turned 15 today. But his birthday was barely on his mind; instead he mourned the loss of someone he considered a brother. They were together “24/7,” he said, playing pickup games of basketball, rapping, joking and just sitting around.
Before he moved back to the Bronx 3 years ago, Keon loved to mow grass and fix the lawnmower when it broke, at his home in Monticello, N.Y. He’d take apart just about anything from computers to TVs and would work on his stepfather’s car, his grandmother said. “He liked doing things with his hands.”
He wanted to be a mechanic or an engineer when he grew up and had already built his mother a computer. The oldest of five children, Keon was close to his siblings. “He picked them up from school and took them to the bus in the morning,” his mother, Skeeter Nedd, said.
Though none of his friends who gathered at the house had been with him the night of the accident, Destiny Hueston was one of the last people to speak to Keon before his death – They talked on the phone around 12:30 about meeting up this weekend.
“I can’t take it,” she said knowing that he was killed by teenagers who stole a car.
George and his mother both were appalled that the culprits had not turned themselves in. “Kids will be kids,” Skeeter said. “But you always have to know there is an action behind what you do.”