Brightline deaths: King, 51, had turned life around after prison


Jeffrey King biked the same route from his home to Troy’s Barbeque in Boynton Beach, where he worked as a dishwasher, twice a day, five days a week.

The route always traversed the Florida East Coast Railway tracks that cut through the heart of the city. But on Jan. 17, King, 51, weaved through the safeguard gates that block the railway, likely expecting a slow-moving freight train, on his way home from work, his family said.

Instead, a northbound express passenger service Brightline zoomed through, and struck and killed King — a man who cared for his 82-year-old mother, the homeless and the hungry in an attempt to turn his life around after two prison sentences.

“We’ve conditioned people to think they have more time than they do before the train comes,” said Zedrick Barber II, King’s family attorney. King, 51, was the second person killed by a Brightline train since its January debut.

>> Brightline deaths: City-by-city look at what’s happened and what’s next

Along the railway where King died are flowers and a wooden cross — an homage to King’s Baptist beliefs, which revived him after he served six years in prison in the 1990s for unarmed robbery, his mother Shirley Folsom said.

“He was a much better person after he got out,” said Folsom, who lived with King, her youngest son. “He was baptized in prison and he devoted his life to helping people.”

When he wasn’t working, King volunteered at Caring Kitchen, a nonprofit soup kitchen in Delray Beach, brought coffee and food to homeless people near Boynton Beach City Library and cared for his mother and 11-year-old Siberian Husky, Siba.

“He truly enjoyed it,” Folsom said. “In fact, one of his best friends that was homeless, he hired to mow our lawn so he could make some extra money.”

King’s faith bolstered his kindness, Folsom said. He went to Journey Church in Boynton Beach with his sister and nieces almost every Sunday.

>> Brightline deaths: Lavell, 32, played soccer, was in homecoming court

He was raised in a religious household in Old Town, Maine, where he was born. Folsom’s mother — King’s grandmother — played the organ at the local Methodist church.

When he came to Florida at the age of 15, King — the youngest of five children, two of whom died before he did — fell on tough times. He was convicted of burglary in 1986 and robbery in 1991.

But things were looking up upon his release and that’s what made the train crash all the more tough on his family.

“I often think, did he see it coming? See that fast train?” Folsom said through tears. “I’m told he didn’t, but I know if he did he would have said a prayer. Not for himself, but for me.”

King’s family are pushing for more safety features and education.

“I don’t want another family to go through this,” Folsom said, sitting on the porch of her Boynton Beach home. King’s dog, Siba, sat quietly on the nearby steps, staring at the street outside their home.

He’s been waiting for King to come home, Folsom said.

Folsom takes solace, though, in her last exchange with her youngest son before he headed off to work, a sign of how far he had come since prison.

“I said to him, ‘Wow, you look so good. Clean shaven.’ ” she said. “That’s the last thing I said to him.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Veterans arrive home to cheers and hugs after trip to Washington D.C.
Veterans arrive home to cheers and hugs after trip to Washington D.C.

The noise filled the entrance to Concourse A and B long before the men in red hats arrived. About 300 people had already come, some wearing cowboy boots, some holding USA signs, some sporting freshly pressed military uniforms and pushing walkers with American flags pinned to the sides. “We came to honor our boys,” said Frank Bonfiglio,...
Meghan Markle's rescue dog, Guy the beagle, goes from shelter pup to royal pet
Meghan Markle's rescue dog, Guy the beagle, goes from shelter pup to royal pet

A new member of the royal family is making headlines – and no, we're not talking about Meghan Markle. According to the Guardian, a beagle named Guy was in a Kentucky kill shelter until Ontario-based A Dog's Dream Rescue saved him and offered him for adoption at a 2015 event in Canada. That's where he met his new owner, Markle, who went on...
Royal wedding: Kitty Spencer stuns with resemblance to her aunt, Princess Diana
Royal wedding: Kitty Spencer stuns with resemblance to her aunt, Princess Diana

Bride Meghan Markle wasn't the only one turning heads at Saturday's royal wedding. Many fans of the royals said Lady Kitty Spencer, niece of the late Princess Diana and daughter of Earl Charles Spencer, Diana's brother, looked just like her famous aunt. According to the New York Daily News, the 27-year-old model wore a forest green Dolce & Gabbana...
Royal wedding: Meghan Markle wears Princess Diana's aquamarine ring to reception
Royal wedding: Meghan Markle wears Princess Diana's aquamarine ring to reception

After Saturday's royal wedding, Meghan Markle honored the late Princess Diana, Prince Harry's mother, with a little "something blue." According to "Today" and Vogue, the Duchess of Sussex wore Diana's emerald-cut aquamarine ring to the couple's evening wedding reception. >> Read more trending news  The ring wasn't...
T.I. arrest: Petition urges police to drop charges against rapper
T.I. arrest: Petition urges police to drop charges against rapper

Days after T.I. was arrested outside his gated community in Henry County, Georgia, an online petition has surfaced urging police to drop the charges against the Atlanta rapper.  On Wednesday, the artist, whose legal name is Clifford Harris Jr., was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness, but the Care2...
More Stories