It was a Sunday for giggles in bounce houses, a DJ playing “Baby Shark,” a popcorn machine and presents, the cast of "PJ Masks" and time to run after the friends they'd missed last week at day care.
Karter and Karson Bobo turned 4 on Sunday in a birthday extravaganza hosted by a community that had just buried the twins’ father the day before, and would bury their mother Monday.
Nicholas Bobo Jr., 34, and Arielle Davis, 28, died in a fatal car crash in the wee hours of Dec. 30. Authorities say an intoxicated Aiysha Williams, 26, who was treated for a broken ankle, struck the couple’s car while speeding through a stop sign in South Akron. The couple was thrown from their car. Bobo died instantly. Then Davis at the hospital.
With no charges and family demanding justice, an officer with the Ohio State Highway Patrol said Lt. A. Matos will update the press Monday. Police have requested blood samples from the hospital after alleging an odor of alcohol on Williams, who is not considered a flight risk. Investigators are reviewing electronic data from the wrecked cars before finalizing their crash report.
But the families of the twins would have no talk of the tragedy Sunday at the Lawton Street Community Center in West Akron, where local businesses, the Fallen Fathers Foundation, Changing Lives LLC and other neighborhood groups threw the boys a second birthday celebration. They celebrated poolside the night before at the Days Inn under a booking made months ago by their now deceased mother.
Friends and family said that’s who Davis was: a mother who never failed to pour love and attention on her kids. “She knew how to make the world laugh. When she showed up, the light showed up with her,” Jovonne Bickerstaff said of her younger sister.
Each night since the accident, the twins cry out for their mother and father, said Bickerstaff, a Washington, D.C., professor and researcher who flew home to help her family decide how to care for the twins and Davis' daughter, who turns 10 later this week.
“This moment is wonderful,” Bickerstaff said as the boys chased friends and cartoon characters across the Schumacher Elementary gymnasium. “But they’re going to have to grow up, without their mother and father.”
Friends step up
Bickerstaff’s college friends heard of the tragedy and started a GoFundMe page (https://bit.ly/2F3RjBS), which will feed a college account for the twins and their older sister. Support for Bobo’s family and children can be given at https://bit.ly/2F3EkQD. Funeral services for Davis will be noon Monday at House of the Lord, 1650 Diagonal Road, with internment at Lakewood Cemetery. Bobo was remembered at Rhoden Memorial Home on Saturday.
“He was a great man. He was a great father,” said Jaz Hunt, who supplied the bounce houses, employees in "PJ Masks" costumes and kids' entertainment through his business, Family Bakers Fun World. Hunt said he’s known Bobo for 25 years. In 2016, shortly after his business started, Bobo spotted Hunt unwrapping a Bart Simpson costume.
“ ‘You got some work for me.’ He jumped straight in [the costume],” said Hunt, who occasionally gave Bobo work when the father wasn’t busy with other side jobs. That “really emphasized his love for children,” especially his own and his stepchildren, Hunt said.
Friends, family, even staff at the twins' day care described Davis and Bobo as funny, warmhearted, deeply in love, caring and attentive parents. They were headed toward better days.
Davis was promoted two weeks before her death. She proudly took the assistant manager job at a hotel in Fairlawn, where the kids went to Kinder Care day care so the couple could provide for them. About a year ago, Bobo finally gained custody of his first- and third-born sons, said LaToya Ware, the mother of Bobo’s second son. The three half brothers, along with the twins, are now fatherless.
“My son talks about him every night. And he talks about his stepmom [Davis],” said Ware, who spent Sunday taking turns embracing the twins with kindred neighbors, family and friends bonded by blood, relationships and the love of two orphaned twins.
The boys laughed and played, forgetting their loss for a few brief moments. “Tomorrow,” said Bickerstaff, “I have to bury my baby. But right now, we’re living in 15-minute increments.”
Reach Doug Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3792.