[Error: unknown template qotd]
Omar Awqatty.They pulled off their clothes, jumped into the Charles River, swam out to the car, smashed its windows, banged on the roof and heard tapping in response, pulled on an arm of a man trapped and struggling 10 feet under water.
For a dozen or so minutes -- just how long, they are not sure -- three would-be rescuers fought the Charles River and the clock in Cambridge Wednesday night in a heroic attempt to rescue two persons whose car had crashed through a guardrail and sunk.
They overcame the cold and the current of the river. But they lost to the clock.
When a tow truck pulled the car out of the water a few minutes later, firefighters found Omar Awqatty, 18, a talented artist and ...
The site that has the newspaper article from June 2, 1989 archived requires registration before they show you the rest, but I know it well ~ I still have the article cut out from the paper.
Amongst other things, what it immediately went on to tell you was that he was also a musician ~ a bass player, to be specific.
What the article doesn't mention is that his girlfriend, who had been driving the car, received a very short sentence, due to her mental state, for his murder, because they didn't know it was anything other than an accident at that time.
When Cliff Burton was killed in a bus accident, two bass players made the short list ~ the one who got the gig and Omar. Some part of me actively disliked Metallica for that, after all, if he got the gig, he'd be on the road, and his girlfriend ~ who misread all his new healthfood kick and upbeat attitude as involving another woman ~ wouldn't have been able to drive him into the Charles and drown him.
There are very few events in my life that had a greater impact on me than when I heard that news within hours of the event.
I turned twenty the day after that article came out, and later that night I found myself in the role of taxi to one of my brothers friends. The drive required me to go along the Charles, and at that time my understanding was the accident had occurred on the Boston side of the river. We sat at a light and both received a chill ~ the effects were visible. The light changed, and we found ourselves driving past the missing section of fence.
A couple days after my birthday, I managed to write Talent Lost
Almost twenty years later, the guitar he was going to paint for me remains in an unfinished state. The Boston Globe ran his obituary on the front page of the Metro/Region section, with a photograph of a portrait of Einstein he had painted. Had he lived, you might be familiar with his art.
Omar, even if Metallica had refused him, was still destined for musical fame and fortune. We had been discussing the possibility of a band, and I know there was at least one other project he was working on as well. Had he lived, there would have been more, and everyone outside of the Boston music scene would also be aware of his talent.
So, yeah, that is the celebrity death that has given me the biggest emotional hit.