Pleasantville teen killed in crash loved biking, helping others
Jahree Charles loved to ride his bike.
The Pleasantville High School freshman saved up to buy the perfect fit for his 6-foot-3, 250-pound frame.
With his old bike out of commission for a few months, Jahree was ecstatic to get his new bike April 1.
But he didn’t get to use it long.
While biking on Loraine Avenue in Pleasantville on Wednesday, Jahree was struck by a car on Franklin Boulevard.
He had just left his mom’s around 4 p.m., heading to a friend’s house off Loraine.
“You’re not going to be here when I get back,” he told his baby niece as he gave her a kiss.
“I want to teach her everything,” Jahree would tell his mom of his sister’s daughter. “I want to protect her.”
Jahree was almost to his friend’s house off Loraine when the crash happened.
Police were called to the scene at about 4:30 p.m. He was airlifted to the Trauma Unit at AtlantiCare in Atlantic City, but couldn’t be saved.
“Everyone called him a gentle giant,” Timithea Azon said of her son who would have turned 16 in November. “All he wanted to do was ride his bike and play his games.”
He also loved helping people. He would take out the neighbors’ trash the night before pick-up and then come back the next day and put the empty bins back. He was always offering to lend a hand, neighbors would later tell his mother.
It’s how Jahree was able to buy the bike himself. It’s also how so many people got to know Azon’s son.
“He knew everyone,” she is finding out as people continue to reach out to tell her about her son.
“He stopped over here a few days before this happened and gave me a big hug with that big smile on his face,” Patricia Forbey Faulcon recalled. “Then he hopped on his bike and went riding off again. I loved him so much.”
Jahree always made sure his mother knew where he was.
She recently posted video he sent her when he was first riding about two years ago.
“I’m good, I’m safe, I have my key. I just wanted to send you this video to know where I’m at,” he said in one.
“I wanted everyone to see his splendor, his glory,” his mother said Saturday. “I just wanted people to hear his spirit.”
“I actually really like riding my bike now, it’s so fun,” Jahree says in one video to his mom. “It’s keeping me out of trouble, it’s giving me exercise. Biking, I think, is really my passion because I’m having so much fun doing it.”
Aundrea Wallace, a trained EMT who was driving by when the crash happened, stopped and tried to help. She reached out to Azon to learn more about the child.
“I was heartbroken that I couldn’t do more than I did,” she told BreakingAC. “When I got to him, there was no pulse and seemed like there was nothing I could do.”
Azon was glad to know someone tried to help.
The mother has tried to find out everything that happened. No further information has been released about the investigation.
“The more I piece together, it’s more horrific each detail,” she said. “But I can’t not know.”
Azon appreciated Wallace reaching out to find out about her son. They spent time talking about what he did, his favorite music and anything else Wallace asked.
“Everyone’s just been very helpful in the community so far,” Azon said. “I’m just grateful for anybody reaching out.”
She is also taking some comfort knowing he saved lives.
Jahree’s lungs, kidney and heart have already helped five transplant patients.
Her son was always teaching her by sharing what he learned in school, she said. Now, she’s learning firsthand about the impact of organ donation.
“Even after his death, he’s still teaching me,” she said.
“That’s the most peace I guess I can get, knowing pieces of him are somewhere around even though he’s not,” she added.
Azon had been going back and forth to the hospital, sitting with her son before the transplants. But she told hospital staff Friday that this would be her goodbye.
“I think in my mind in some strange way, I think, ‘Next time I go I’m going to bring him home,'” she explained. “And I need to not hold on to that fantasy. I know my baby’s not coming home.”