Memorial for 20-year old Guilford man who was killed in motorcycle accident grows

GUILFORD — Bronze daisies, sunflowers, carnations, pink and yellow roses blanketed two picnic tables outside the Mobil gas station at 500 Boston Post Road Wednesday to pay respects to Mohammad Kareem Halabi, 20, who died in a motorcycle accident.

Halabi was killed Sept. 19 when he lost control of the Kawasaki Ninja 650 motorcycle he was driving and crashed into a metal guardrail on the Route 34 connector to Interstate 95 north in New Haven, according to state police.

The floral tribute that grew throughout the day was located at the gas station owned by Halabi’s parents Sawsan and Mohammad Halabi.  

The younger Halabi, known as Moe, often worked at the station after school, according to friends.

Down the street, at Flowers on the Green, owner Christie Baker set up a small glass table outside the shop with piles of blue notecards and a container of pens. It was surrounded by buckets of flowers free for the taking for those who wanted to pay tribute.

It was a good location, Baker said, so “the kids could come and have their privacy writing their cards and then they drive up the street and put it at the gas station.”

Baker said young people, as well as adults, were coming to her shop.

“It’s just beautiful,” she said. 

“I know the power of flowers,” Baker said. “I’m not a parent, I don’t have children, I have a dog, so I don’t know the pain, but I can help with flowers because flowers make people feel better.”

At the temporary memorial, among the flowers was a piece of plywood, inscribed with the victim’s nickname “Moe,” written inside a drawn heart and adorned with photos of Halabi with his friends. 

Personal mementos, including two Hot Wheels — a Scorcher and a Super Stinger  —  and a 5-gallon drum of VP Racing Fuels were a nod to Halabi’s love of racecars, said friends.

Handwritten notes were attached to many of the bouquets and plants. 

“So very sorry for your loss of your sweet boy! May you find healing and peace within. Forever in our hearts! Guilford Friend," read one note.

Another read “The best friend a person could ask for. So genuine and kind hearted. We love you so much Moe thank you for all the memories. Our friend group will never be the same w/o you. Love, Chris, Nate and Caroline. Hope you’re driving racecars up there.” 

Chris Golino, one of Halabi’s best friends, talked about their friendship in a text.

"He meant a lot to me and so much that no words can describe him as a person," wrote Golino. 

"He would take his shirt off his own back for anyone, didn’t matter who it was, but he would do it to help,” he said.

Another one of his best friends, who said he was more of a brother to Halabi, Ali Sabea, echoed these sentiments in a text. 

“He was selfless, extremely selfless,” he wrote. “A pure heart and always looked for the best in people regardless who they were.”

A 2020 graduate of Guilford High School, Halabi was a well-respected member of the school community. A community that is “devastated by this loss,” said Julia Chaffe, principal.

“He was a loved member of our wrestling team and just an all-around wonderful kid to have in our school,” she said.

“He just had this gift of a sense of humor that stands out, that you just don’t forget,” she said. “We’re just heartbroken about it and it’s always awful when someone dies so young. You never get used to it and you never get over, it once something like this happens.”
Chaffe said the school counseling and social workers have been available “to support students who needed any kind of emotional support, as well as staff and faculty.”

Daniela Balzano, who knew Halabi through her children, organized the flower memorial along with Baker.

“I think the important thing today was that the kids had an outlet for their sadness and their emotions,” she said. 

“It looks like they wrote some really beautiful words and left some very special items at the memorial,” she said. “I’m so glad they used the opportunity to create connection.”

Both Balzano and Baker said their hope is that the family finds some comfort in the tribute.

“We don’t know the pain,” Baker said. “We don’t know what they’re going through. So, if this eases a little bit of pain, that’s all we can do.”

Balzano said the tribute is “really for the family to know that we’re all here for them.”