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    Second brother dies after bicycle accident

    Almarin Sefa, 14, died Saturday evening. His brother, Ervis, died Friday. The deaths stun their family, school and community.

    By MIKE BRASSFIELD
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published October 27, 2002


    LARGO -- The two teenage Albanian brothers were smart, funny and well-liked. They came to America a year ago and were making their way in this new place.

    Friday morning, the older brother died when the boys were hit by two cars while bicycling to school.

    Saturday evening, the younger brother also died of his injuries.

    "It's a tragedy, a shock," said Ismet Sheloshi, president of the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Clearwater. "People do not have the words to tell how nice these kids were, how sweet, how intelligent."

    The deaths of Ervis Sefa, 18, and Almarin Sefa, 14, were a blow to their family, their school and their community.

    The boys were the only children of Sulejman and Olga Sefa, who moved to Largo from Albania last year. The news hit hard in Pinellas County's Albanian community, which numbers in the thousands.

    Dozens of friends filled the Sefas' home Saturday night.

    "We're trying to be as close as possible to the family to give them strength," Sheloshi said.

    Friday morning, the brothers were riding on a single bicycle to Largo High School from their home, about a mile away on Ninth Avenue NW. They usually caught a bus from there to Pinellas Park High School, where they attended classes.

    Ervis pedaled. Almarin rode on the handlebars.

    About 6:30 a.m., in the early morning darkness, the brothers went into the southbound lanes of Missouri Avenue and were hit by two cars, police said.

    Their bicycle had no light, and they crossed at an intersection with no traffic light or crosswalk, police said. Neither of the cars' drivers have been charged in the accident.

    Ervis died instantly. Almarin was taken to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where he clung to life until about 6 p.m. Saturday.

    For the brothers' friends, the news was crushing.

    "They were great characters. We had a great time together," said family friend Vigu Xhafaj, 22. "They were both very, very smart."

    At Pinellas Park High, the brothers were straight-A students who spoke virtually flawless English. They were popular and outgoing.

    "It's a real tragedy," said principal Denise Hart, who plans to have counselors available to talk to students when they return to school Monday.

    Funeral arrangements for the brothers had not been set Saturday. Arrangements will be made through Moss Feaster Funeral Home in Largo.

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