Kevaun Tomlin – A promising teenager’s life cut short
Fifteen-year-old Denbigh High School 10th-grader Kevaun Tomlin had his sights set on being an accountant, as he vowed he would never take up farming as his father (Kevin). The teenager’s dream was cut short when he died suddenly on April 7 – two days after he collapsed at his school and had to be rushed to Denbigh Hospital in Clarendon.
In an interview with The Gleaner his aunt, Latoya Anderson Gilfillian, with whom he has been living for over 10 years, broke down as she recalled the events leading up to his death.
She said that he took sick at school in March and was taken to the hospital ,where he underwent a brain scan. The result was inconclusive, so she said they were sent to Kingston to undergo an MRI.
Before receiving the results, she said, he was due for his ward review; he also did a blood test at the hospital. Gilfillian said. He had an exam on April 5 so he had to go to school.
“When it come on to school, Kevaun doesn’t want to stop from school. Him nuh teck nuh check. It was even a problem for him to go do the brain scan ‘cause he didn’t want to miss school, so I allowed him to go to school, I couldn’t stop him,” she shared.
Later on in the day, she got a call from the teachers at the school that her nephew had again fallen sick.
When she visited, she said he was unresponsive. However, after he regained consciousness, she said he started throwing up “black stuff”.
The night before his death she saw him and he called her ‘Aunty P’, not his usual ‘Aunty’, which she pondered and found strange.
Before leaving, she said the doctor told her he had to do an emergency test as they discovered he had a stroke could not identify what caused it.
“I was like, strokes comes with high blood pressure or something, and they are not seeing anything,” she informed. She said she made the sacrifice and paid for the test, as owing to the condition he was in ,she didn’t want the day to end and he didn’t get the test done.
After praying with him, she went home, and was prepared to visit him the following day.
That day never came, as she was called the following day to visit the hospital, where she was greeted with the news of his passing.
“My brother was there, [but] he didn’t know what happened. I started to cry, but at the same time my brother was asking, ‘What is wrong? I knew I had to brace myself, because I had to be strong for him. He asked what happened to his son and I couldn’t answer him,” she shared, adding that the doctor informed him that he lost his son. He fainted and hit his head on the ground.
“After he was revived, he fainted again. Even though I was weak, I had to be his strength,” she said.
Reminiscing on her nephew’s life, Gilfillian said he was a loving child, liked combing her hair. He said that he didn’t want to live anywhere but with her. As she pointed out that although her brother lived in the community, he chose to stay with her.
Showing his many trophies he received while a student at the Smithville Primary School, she said he was highly competitive and didn’t like to fail.
While his sudden passing has hurt her, she said she is comforted by the thought that he didn’t die suddenly.
“What kinda bring me comfort at this time [is] when I look on the TV and I saw the news with the children, like Central (High School). I don’t know what the mother is going through, where they find the body of the student (Jason White). They have so much questions. I look at those two young men at the school with the ring incident, where both parents [were] grieving at the moment,” she said on the incident at William Knibb High School in Trelawny, where Khamal Hall was killed by one of his classmates.
“But what brings me comfort, [is that] God took him early. Those things give me comfort, I don’t have to go to the station,;‘knee city’, that’s where I am to stay and for that I still give God thanks.”
Keneisha Williamson, Kevaun’s English teacher at Denbigh, remembers her student as vibrant and one who always tried to do well.
“He took pride in making me feel proud as his teacher. As I taught him, he gave me the impression that he was hungry for success. He understood that he was from a humble background and wanted to make his family and teachers proud. He was respectful, pleasant, and one of the few students I had online who always answered me, even when other students remained quiet,” she noted, stating her love for him.