Jigme K. Norbu, the 45 year-old son of Dr. Thubten J. Norbu, and nephew of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, left St. Augustine yesterday en route to West Palm Beach on a 300-mile “Walk for Tibet” that would end tragically 25 miles later.
Around 7:30 p.m. troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol responded to the scene of a single-vehicle collision with a pedestrian in a dark stretch of road along Coastal Highway in the Hammock; across the street from the Adult and Community Education building, about 10 miles north of Flagler Beach.
Norbu was struck by a dark gray 2001 Kia Sportage driven by Keith O’Dell; a 31 year-old resident of Blackwell Place in Palm Coast. O’Dell had a 5-year-old child with him, according to the FHP traffic homicide report. Neither the driver nor passenger was injured in the collision. No charges were filed.
Author-educator Donna Kim-Brand was driving the support van for Norbu and 67 year-old Wangchuk Dorjee-La; a former Tibetan Parliament member on his fourth walk with Norbu.
Norbu is reported to have completed more than 21 walks and bike rides. Altogether, Norbu has compiled over 7800 miles — both in the United States and overseas; calling attention to the many Tibetans who say Chinese rule deprives them of religious freedom.
“Jigme and elder Wangchuk walked all day until Wangchuk couldn’t do more,” Kim-Brand wrote in her blog of the journey. “Jigme insisted to finish another 2 miles on his own, in the growing dark, even though we asked him not to.”
Kim-Brand writes that when Norbu refused to get in the van, she and Wangchuk went ahead to greet the next group of supporters and to wait for Norbu.
Kim-Brand and Wangchuk returned to a supporter’s home in St. Augustine, where they will spend the night, tonight.
“We are just sad that the press was more interested in the story only when it involved this type of tragedy,” Kim-Brand wrote. “Rather than the on-going tragedy of what is happening inside Tibet.”
According to Kim-Brand, other Tibetans have contacted her, wanting to take Jigme’s place and continue the walk. It is possible that they will pick up and carry forward as soon as tomorrow.
When asked, Kim-Brand said, “Jigme’s message would be to be kind to each other, bring peace with your presence, claim your freedom and use it for good, and please support Tibetans to return to a peaceful life of dignity and independence.”
Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News provided by The Taipei Times