Family, friends remember AirTrain employee

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Co-workers, friends and family filled the steps in front of Kelvin DeBourgh’s one-story brick house in Springfield Gardens Friday just hours after the 23-year-old conductor was killed in the AirTrain crash at Kennedy Airport.

“I knew him since he was a baby — he was a beautiful person,” said Randolph Hilaire, a friend of both Kelvin, 23, and his parents. “He knew me as an uncle.”

Hilaire said DeBourgh, also known as Chris, was energetic as a child and was someone who enjoyed happy occasions.

“As a kid, he’d always provoke me,” Hilaire said with a laugh. “He always goes to all the carnivals around here.”

The crowd gathered at 140-25 160th St. grew steadily as news spread of Friday’s accident. The streets became congested as cars drove up and neighbors came out of their houses to talk to one another about the AirTrain derailment. People walked back and forth, lost in thought, past the house and many chose not to answer questions about DeBourgh.

“He’s a fantastic guy,” one passerby said. “I can’t really talk now — sorry, I’m still in shock.”

Hilaire said co-workers were planning a memorial for DeBourgh but no specific time or date had been set.

Co-worker Cedric McCarthy, who worked with DeBourgh on construction projects, said he knew the DeBourgh family well, especially Kelvin.

“He was a very nice person,” McCarthy said of DeBourgh, whose parents moved to the United States from Trinidad before he was born. “The whole family is very nice.”

Deon Crenshaw, one of DeBourgh’s lifelong friends, found out about the accident two hours after it happened. He said the DeBourghs, who are Catholics, were not dealing well with the death of their son.

But on a personal note, Crenshaw, who is now a truck driver, said he and DeBourgh often worked and socialized together.

“We did everything together, we grew up together our whole lives,” he said. “That was my best man right there.”

Crenshaw said DeBourgh’s main interest was anything electric, from car audio systems, to being a DJ, which he regularly practiced both with friends and at carnivals.

“We had some good times,” Crenshaw said.

Speaking for local city officials, Borough President Helen Marshall said her thoughts were with DeBourgh’s family.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of the Port Authority worker who died,” she said. “His untimely death is a terrible tragedy that is hard for us all to accept.”

DeBourgh leaves behind an 11-month-old child named Avion, whom he fathered with a former girlfriend.

A wake was planned for Wednesday, Oct. 2, at J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home in St. Albans. A funeral service was to be held at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Springfield Gardens Thursday.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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