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Friend recalls desperate attempts to save Jason’s life

James Adams will never forget the morning of May 1, 2011.

The evening before, he and a few friends had gone into Hamilton for the evening before his return to university the next day.

As usual, they all piled back to his home in Pembroke in the small hours, with a plan to head soon after to Ice Queen for some food.

The friends never made it to the fast food restaurant. Instead, James, 22, found himself desperately trying to save the life of Jason Smith, one of his best friends.

Jason was shot twice shortly before 4am in the driveway of James’s home, on the corner of North Shore Road and Overview Hill, while James and another friend, Jez Burrows, were inside getting a drink.

“I thought Jez had dropped something in the kitchen,” says James, describing his immediate reaction to the gunfire.

“I came out and I didn’t see Jez and I was confused until I heard Jay screaming and at that point I knew what had happened.

“At that point he came stumbling over and told me he had been shot. He literally just fell down into my arms. I screamed for my mom, because she’s a nurse.

“We began doing CPR. I’m a lifeguard so I had equipment to give CPR and things like that. It was tough. It was hard to be there and to go through that.”

Their efforts failed to save Jason but James says: “He did fight hard in his final moments. He gave all that he had. It was just one of those things where we couldn’t really do anything. It was too much.”

He takes comfort from the fact that Jason “didn’t go through it alone”.

“He did lose his life in a place where he had had a lot of good memories,” adds James. “My house was a central point for all of us. If there was anything positive to take from it, that was it.”

James, along with Jason’s other close friends from Saltus Grammar School, describe him as the lynchpin of their group. None can understand how their fun-loving pal came to be killed by a gunman in what police consider a gang-related crime.

James says: “I just think, of all of us, Jay, the friendship we had with him, was built over a lifetime and for it to be taken in minutes, it’s very personal to us and very upsetting.

“It’s tough, not just for me, but for all of us. We were all like brothers and sisters to Jason. If he was in a gang, then we were all in a gang and that’s not the case.”

Another friend, Ezekiel Stoneham, 21, adds: “If he was doing something suspect, we would have known.”

The friends have set up an award and charitable organisation in Jason’s honour and many of them wanted to share their memories of him with

The Royal Gazette.

James remembers his friend’s “carefree approach to life and almost pointless humour and pointless things that he would stretch out to be the greatest memories”.

Jason was passionate about football, playing as a striker for PHC and representing Saltus, St Mary’s University in Canada and the Bermuda national squad. He was also a fervent Manchester United fan.

Ezekiel says he and Lozendro Symonds practised football with Jason from the age of ten or 11.

“How we play is with Jay. Without Jay it’s off-balance. We have been working on it for eight, nine, ten years now.”

He adds: “[There was ] never a doubt in your mind that he was loyal to you as a person. There was never any doubt about his feelings.

“He was always cracking jokes, eating his snacks. Always eating gingerbread and hot cheese curls and ketchup. Little things that you can remember because you are with someone so much.”

Kryshae Furbert, 22, says Jason’s death is a “constant reminder that we need to take advantage of our ‘right nows’ and cherish time spent with loved ones.

She adds: “Although I have tons of good memories with Jay, I wish I could have had the chance to make more. I know it’s too late to tell him now but I have learned so much from him.

“He was a loyal and genuine friend. He had a carefree spirit that was infectious and an unforgettable smile.”

Francesca Cacace, 21, says the reality of Jason’s murder has yet to hit home for her.

“I still feel like I’m going to bump into him and see his big smile or hear him shout out my name,” she says. “I am so thankful for all the memories that I was able to share with Jason. He is forever in my heart and his memory lives on through all of us.”

Jasmin Caines, 22, became friends with Jason aged 14, after he nicknamed her “Llama” for her “peculiar comments”.

“I started calling him Llama as well and, from then, we became the best of friends. There was never a dull moment with Jason.

“He had a free spirit and a positive attitude towards life and I miss that. He had a smile that could light up a room and I’ll never forget it.”

* Jason was a lance corporal in the Bermuda Regiment and on Saturday evening his army colleagues paid tribute to him at the Corporals’ gala dinner at the Fairmont Southampton.

Jason’s cousin Shade Subair and her fiancé Makee Tucker attended the ball on behalf of his parents and accepted a paint mural signed by members of his mess. Ms Subair said: “This is a real honour to Jason and his family and I don’t think I can truly express how we feel but thank you.”

James Adams and Jason Smith share a laugh.

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Published November 14, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 14, 2011 at 9:08 am)

Friend recalls desperate attempts to save Jason’s life

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