At an evening service, people sang for their lives, and a mural in the works is to show Gideon Desir, Lens Desir and Richecarde Dumay will always be remembered.
The Little Haiti Football Club and the city of Miami held a memorial on the night of Thursday, June 6, for three teenage Haitian boys who were struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver on Saturday, May 25.
“Just one day before we celebrate our Haitian Mother’s Day, the god of Moloch, thirsty for the blood of the children of God, incarnated in a reckless driver and took the lives of three shining stars, the Reverend Reginald Jean-Mary of Notre Dame d’Haiti said while on stage at the ittle Haiti Soccer Park. "It was a stupid death. The kids did not deserve that.”
Gideon Desir, 13, Lens Desir, 15, and Richecarde, 17 were hit around 5:30 a.m. by a Black SUV while they were trying to get to a pick-up point for a soccer tournament in Weston, police said. All three teens were confirmed dead on the scene. Police took several days to identify the driver, who allegedly hit the teens. They identified Mariam Coulibaly; she was originally taken to Aventura Hospital in stable condition, according to North Miami Police spokesperson, Officer Natalie Buissereth. Coulibaly, 31, was later charged with three counts of DUI manslaughter and three counts of vehicular manslaughter, according to a statement.
Gideon Desir, Lens Desir and Richecarde were on their way to compete with the rest of the team in the Enigma Cup. The tournament pits the players against top boys and girls youth soccer clubs from Europe, North, Central and South America and the Caribbean in Weston and ran from May 24 to 27. The Little Haiti Football Club teams forfeited the rest of the tournament.
“These are the consequences of those actions,” said state Rep. Dotie Joseph. “They overcame tremendous odds to make it to this land of promise. Now they won’t get to be the first in their family to graduate high school, to get married, to have children. They don’t have that chance.”
More than 1,000 people, Haitian and non-Haitian alike, met to extend their condolences to the boys’ friends and families. They gathered in the stands and on the pitch, on seats arranged on either side of a stage. The mourners wailed, while organizers, teachers, pastors, and elected officials empathized.
“We should remember them by living the way they did, with enthusiasm, hope and unity,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said from behind the lectern. Marleine Bastien, director of the Family Action Network, said the response from the community was wonderful. She said the community was standing united not only in mourning but to say things have to change.
“Not too many knew they didn’t have a way to get there,” Bastien said after the service. Bastien said U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is supporting two of the mothers in their application for a visa to attend their son’s funeral.
“This is not why the club was formed,” Gomez Laleau, president of the Little Haiti Football Club, said on stage. “Our dream is kids in college. Our dream is kids off the street.”
The boys played together at the Little Haiti Soccer Park, 6301 NE Second Ave., as members of The Little Haiti Football Club. The football club is a nonprofit start-up for underserved families from the central Miami neighborhood of Little Haiti and surrounding communities. It was founded in April 2014 by Laleau, North Miami High School Dean of Students; Dave Villano, Ransom Everglades coach; Pat Santangelo, aid to former Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado; and Samuel Prunier, a community leader and Math teacher at Miami Edison Senior High School.The club started with two boys teams, under-16 and under-18, and has since added a female division. There are 100 children in the program. It has provided many of the children with full scholarships for college. Laleau said the club needs the community’s support.
“Focus on academics. Stop teen pregnancy. That’s what we preach. They are doing the right thing but we’re not supporting them,” Laleau said after the service.
Mariline Nelson provided grief counseling for members of the club after the deaths of their club mates. Nelson, a mental health counselor with Helping Hands Community Services, said it was an honor and a privilege to help talented young men.
“As unfortunate as it is, and it is unfortunate, it’s also an opportunity for the team to be exposed and for us to step forward and help out,” Nelson said.
While people congregated for the service, Serge Toussaint was on the other side of the soccer park painting a mural of Gideon Desir, Lens Desir and Richecarde. Toussaint played soccer on the same team as Richecarde’s father.
“I’m going to do it to last forever,” Toussaint said of the mural. “So their story will continue and they will be like heroes in Little Haiti Football Club. I would hate for them to be forgotten.”