By: Jen Russon
It was supposed to be a fun and uneventful spring break. But on the first day of her week-long vacation, a well-loved Coral Springs athlete met with tragedy on her way to Ft. Lauderdale beach.
Riding with friends, Kendell Williams, 17, was traveling eastbound on I-595 when the driver said she was cut off, causing a multi-car accident. Although the driver insisted that all the passengers had their seatbelts on when they began the trip, Kendell, along with another passenger, was ejected from the car.
Transported to Broward Health, she was placed in a medically induced coma after sustaining a fractured skull, swelling of the brain, and other injuries. Sadly, Kendell passed away five days later.
“She [the driver] is just a child. She didn’t mean for any of this to happen,” said her mother, Rhonda.
Originally from Trinidad, Rhonda said their deep faith is helping the family through this. The 54-year-old single parent is holding a Nine-Night ritual to honor Kendell or “Kendii” to family and friends. A Nine-Night ceremony is a Caribbean form of a wake, except for their family, it’s more a celebration of her daughter’s life than it is a time of mourning.
Kendell leaves behind her parents Rhonda and Courtney, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles, and a Maltese named Niko, as well as many friends who have continued to celebrate her life.
“The love we have been shown is unbelievable,” Rhonda said, explaining that Kendell had a reputation among her friends and classmates as one of the nicest and most inclusive people they knew.
“She had a natural way of connecting with people. A body-building coach at her school said that Kendii was the first person to reach out to her disabled daughter. There was another boy – he’s autistic – who loved her too. Anyone who felt excluded was included as soon as they met her,” said Rhonda tearfully.
Before she died, the gifted athlete, who not only played volleyball and flag football but taught Taekwondo, wanted to major in sports medicine at FAU. Tragically, those aspirations were cut short by the head injury she would sustain – and never wake up from.
Coral Glades High School Principal, Steven Carruth and flag football coach, Cameron Thomas, took to Twitter to express their condolences:
“The Coral Glades family is heartbroken over the loss of the wonderful Kendell Williams. Not only was she talented, and athletic, she was the most genuine and kind person ever. A true team player.”