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Moving seven states away would be difficult, Jamison thought, but he figured it would teach him how to be a man.

It did.

A painful loss

A two-foot-tall white cross stands at the end of a narrow, half-mile stretch of Northwest 216th Street in Lawtey, Fla., eerily overshadowing the glimmering metal guardrail and the reflective yellow signs towering behind it.

It was here, where the two-lane road intersects with County Road 200A, where police found an overturned Honda Civic shortly after noon on June 20, 2010. James Jamison, whose name adorns the cross, was found inside it.

An accident report concluded he was traveling 60 mph in a 45 mph zone at approximately 3:30 a.m. when he lost control of the vehicle, which struck a tree at the end of the intersection and rolled onto its roof; a blood test showed he was under the influence of alcohol . A passenger, Xavier L. Cummings, escaped and was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital, but when paramedics arrived at 12:36 p.m., James was pronounced dead.

The report makes no mention of the delayed response, or why Cummings, who could not be reached for this story, did not properly alert authorities to the location of the crash site. Barnes-Davis was told another accident, one involving a police officer, happened nearby that same morning but never understood how the other car was not found.

Jawan Jamison was at home that Sunday afternoon, preparing to take an exam for a summer class, when his mother called him panicking. He met her and several other family members at Western Steer, a steak house in town, before they drove the eight miles together to the crash site.

“It was pretty tough, because he and his dad were real close,” said Tramaine Harris, one of Jamison’s childhood friends. “They were always together. On the weekends, he’d go over to [his father’s] house, or we’d go over there and hang out with his dad. They were real close.”

James Jamison and Barnes-Davis went to school together and had three children, but never married. They separated when Jawan was 10, but Jawan longed to maintain a relationship with his father. Occasionally, Barnes-Davis would find something as trivial as toothpaste missing from her house, only to learn a young Jawan had taken it to James in need.

The night before the accident, James called his son, eager to show him the new car he bought. Jawan, out to dinner, told him he would see it afterward but instead chose to go home.

As a steady rain fell at the crash site, Jawan saw the stretcher and identified his father’s body. Later, he would be the last person to approach the coffin at the wake, crying uncontrollably.

Keeping a secret

Barnes-Davis knew she couldn’t put him through it again.

A twinge of discomfort pulsed in her chest one night last summer, and as she felt a knot near the top of her right breast, her emotions flushed. She was a healthy person, always eating right and exercising. An early-morning doctor’s visit, and a series of tests, revealed the truth: Breast cancer. Her thoughts went to her children, her son.

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