The family of a Queens teen who drowned in the Rockaways is preparing to bury him in his native Senegal this week.
“If everything is done, we’re planning to go Thursday,” said Khady Bittaye Sarr, mother of 17-year-old Lamine Sarr. “All the family is back home. I want to bury my son where we came from.”
Sarr said coping with the death of her youngest child has been tough, and she thinks about him every day.
“Every single second,” the grieving mother said. “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I’m trying.”
Lamine was hanging out with friends in the Rockaway Beach surf when he was swept away by a rip current near Shore Front Parkway and Beach 84th St.s on Sept. 15. His body was found near Beach 98th St. last Tuesday after an extensive police search.
After the burial, Sarr said she and her husband, Mamadou Sarr, are going to spend time with their family in Senegal before returning to New York.
“It’s too rough to stay here alone without Lamine,” she said. “Because I used to see him so much and now I don’t see him anymore.”
Sarr said neighbors, friends, and supporters gathered at a community center near her Far Rockaway home to pay tribute to Lamine on Saturday.
She didn’t attend but saw a video of the memorial.
“All the kids came out…they had white balloons, write his name and let the balloons go,” Sarr, 51, said. “It was wonderful.”
Sarr said she’s grateful her community has been supportive, and even some of Lamine’s friends have stopped by her apartment after school.
“They support me emotionally,” she said. “They gave me their love and support. It was tough. It was very hard to lose your son, 17 years old, getting ready to go to college. You lose all your hope.”
Family and friends said Lamine had dreams of joining the Navy and wanted to be a model.
“He’d say, ‘Ma, I want to serve America. I want to serve my country,” Sarr recalled, adding that her son also wanted to help his beloved Senegal. “He’d say, ‘Ma, I’ve got to work hard to help my people.’ He loved to help.”
A GoFundMe page set up by Lamine’s family has raised more than $14,600 of its $20,000 goal as of Tuesday evening.
Sarr said the money will be used for Lamine’s burial ceremony.