by Gemma Handy
A sweet, loving son with a promising future who always had a smile on his face is how devastated relatives of youngster Zuri Holder are remembering him.
The 20-year-old became the country’s first road fatality of the year on Monday when he died in hospital following a car accident on Saturday night.
The former Antigua Grammar School and State College student was a keen cricketer and member of the Antigua Dance Academy, who dreamed of one day running his own business.
Holder was one of two passengers seriously injured in the smash involving two vehicles in Factory Road. The other was said to still be in intensive care up to last night. The drivers of both vehicles, along with another passenger, escaped with minor injuries.
Holder, from Willikies, was the youngest of three siblings – and his heartbroken mother Desiree Williams’ only son.
“Zuri was a sweet, loving son whose life was cut short,” Williams told Observer. “He always talked about having his own business, being an entrepreneur, and he used to tell me, mom I’m going to look after you.
“He never got to mature, never got to start his full life; it ended so abruptly and it’s so hard for me to accept,” she said in a voice wracked with anguish.
Along with his parents, Holder also leaves behind two sisters, nephews and a baby niece.
He had pledged to always be a “bodyguard” to the one-year-old niece he adored, his sister Desonee Hector said.
She described her younger brother as popular among his peers and a hub of local community life.
“He was very friendly, he got along with the people in the village. I read through all the Facebook posts … persons saying they respected him, he was a nice guy. And he loved his niece and his nephews,” she told Observer.
Last week, Holder’s other sister who lives overseas came home to Antigua for the first time in 15 years.
“Now she’s feeling like she came home to see her brother for the last time,” Hector added.
Holder’s cousin Garette Forde said the young man was always “full of life”.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that can say he had a bad bone with them. He doesn’t let things bother him, he always had a smile on his face, always wanted to be the entertainment of the people around him,” he said.
“Zuri was somebody that dedicated himself to school; he went all the way through school to college. It’s a big loss for the community.
“Zuri spent his time chilling with his friends, staying out of problems, always giving jokes. You could walk up the road not in the best of moods and Zuri would just pull up and your whole mood would change,” Forde said.
Last night, in tribute to his lost cousin, Forde played some of Holder’s favourite songs at his Willikies-based store.
“Where he used to hang out was on the steps of my storeroom. Zuri loved music … that’s exactly where he was sitting before they left that night and went down the road,” he explained.
In a twist of fate, Forde didn’t see his cousin on Saturday evening. As a driver for the Airport Authority, Forde instead came across the scene of the accident some time later.
“I saw the car and the whole commotion but at the time I didn’t know what it was because I had to divert through the traffic. By the time I came back I got a phone call saying Zuri and them got in an accident,” he added.
“And when I saw that car it didn’t look like anything good was going to come.”
The bright young man, who last worked in construction, had shown all signs of a promising future, once earning second place in the 12 and younger category of the annual writing competition, Wadadli Pen Challenge, in 2011.