Oakland Mills ROTC student remembered

Teen killed in crash was `people person' who had aspired to join the Air Force


Surrounded by relatives, Ghyslaine Leone opened a large manila envelope in her Columbia living room yesterday. Inside were certificates, a medal, two military patches and a savings bond - mementos the Haitian immigrant had collected to express pride in her 17-year-old son, who died Saturday morning in a single-car accident on Broken Land Parkway.

Dessalines Jean Jacques, known as "Tou-Tou" to friends, was heading home from "College Night" at a Baltimore nightclub with four friends about 5:30 a.m. when the 2003 Dodge Intrepid in which he was riding jumped the curb, knocked down a light pole, struck a tree and fell down an embankment near Lake Elkhorn.

The driver, Brian Jason Ellis, 18, of the 5100 block of Columbia Road, was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where his relatives have instructed officials not to release information about him. The other three passengers were treated on the day of the crash at Howard County General Hospital and released.

The crash remains under investigation, said a spokeswoman for Howard County police.

Jacques' relatives said that the five friends were returning home from Paradox, a warehouse-turned-hip-hop club across the street from M&T Bank Stadium downtown. The club, which does not serve alcohol and is popular with ravers, opens at 11 p.m. and closes at 5 a.m. It is open to people ages 18 and older, according to the club's Web site.

Jacques, a former sergeant in the Air Force ROTC program at Oakland Mills High School, graduated from the Maryland National Guard's Freestate Challenge Academy at Aberdeen Proving Ground in December. The program, designed for teenagers struggling in school, involves a five-month, military-style residency followed by mentoring. Jacques commanded the drill team there and won numerous awards.

Academy Director Retired Col. Richard Young Jr. of the Maryland National Guard said that Jacques was trying to pass the GED, which was necessary to achieve his goal of joining the Air Force.

Michael Bryant, who plans activities at the academy said Jacques was "a good student and loved to have fun. He was a people person, a leader and well-dressed. He really shined at the fashion show we had. He dressed in hip-hop clothes, but more toward the suits. It was sophisticated."

Jacques lived with his mother in an apartment on Stevens Forest Road across from Oakland Mills Village Center, part of a tight-knit family of immigrants from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He was his mother's youngest child and the only one born in the United States. Many of Jacques' relatives, including his father, stepmother and half-siblings, live in other villages in Columbia.

A viewing will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home in Ellicott City. Services are set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Crossroads Church of the Nazarene in Ellicott City.


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