Sixteen year old Naseer Alwakeel ran cross country and played lacrosse. He won a place at a major summer technology program. He was looking forward to getting his drivers license.
But Friday night, the Gwinnett County teen was killed in a car accident, heading home from the Meadowcreek High School football game with friends.
“He was very smart, very kind, very considerate. Helpful,” his father, Mujaaher Alwakeel, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He was everything you could ask for in a 16 year old.”
Naseer and another passenger, Nelson Umanzor, 18, were killed in the crash along with the driver, Brandon Martinez, 18. One other passenger, Mesiah Allen, 17, was reported to be in in critical condition at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville.
In his son, Mujaaher Alwakeel spoke of an all-American boy who found joy going to football games with friends, helped out at home and was a “huge” help to his mom with his younger brothers and sister.
Naseer moved to Georgia with his family as a toddler from the Buffalo, N.Y., area, and football was a regular part of the life he was creating here.
“Just the camaraderie,” his father said. “Being there with his school, the school spirit.”
Mujaaher Alwakeel had warned Naseer about drugs and alcohol and said he never had a hint of trouble. “He said he was an athlete, he didn’t want to mess up his body.”
The father spoke to The AJC less than 24 hours after the crash, after a grueling night of confusion and grief.
First, there was the visit by Naseer’s friends, telling his wife about an accident their son may have been in, and probably needing to go the Gwinnett Medical Center. Then no, not to the hospital, but to the scene of the crash.
But it was closed off. The parents couldn’t see the site or the investigation, and they just waited. Then the wait ended.
“They came and let us know Naseer was one of the ... .” Mujaaher Alwakeel didn’t finish the sentence.
Saturday morning, he went back to the site of the crash to actually see.
There was a reporter there from Channel 2 Action News, and Mujaaher spoke to him. He gave the reporter a photo of Naseer: getting handsome, smiling broadly, full of life.
Back at home, the condolences are starting to come. Neighbors with a son at the school dropped by. Family from Buffalo and Virginia are expected.
In the Muslim tradition, the burial must take place within three days. Naseer’s body will be picked up, washed and shrouded, and the family believes it will plan for a Monday burial.
Naseer leaves behind his mother and father, two sisters, 24 and 8, and two brothers, 12 and 10.
Mujaaher Alwakeel is struggling with himself now.
He wishes the last time he saw Naseer he wasn’t irritated. “I was mad because I had to take him to school,” the father said. “Sometimes he gets rides with friends. That was my last time interacting with him.”
And worse, he’s wondering if he could have prevented the accident.
His wife had wanted him to do more to investigate kids when Naseer was driving with them. He had just met Martinez once, briefly. He gave him instructions about being safe.
“We try,” he said. “As parents we try and do the best we can and let the chips fall where they may.”
Mujaaher Alwakeel has a message for other parents.
“To my wife’s point about teenage drivers — they’re not the safest drivers,” he said. “You really need to sit down and interview if you will, kids that are driving your kids around.
“Roads are a dangerous place.”