IN 2010, Barack Obama was president, the iPad was introduced and “Snowmageddon” buried the East Coast, including the Fredericksburg area, with more than 3 feet of snow.

And Kevin Sullivan Jr. was alive.

But the 17-year-old Spotsylvania boy didn’t live to see the end of 2010.

Why and how he died, and who caused his death, remains a mystery.

Sullivan was an honor-roll student at Chancellor High School before dropping out and earning his GED. He was known for creating abstract art and sketching friends and family members, and took part in Red Box, an improv comedy group at the high school.

On Nov. 12 that year, around 9:30 at night, the teen texted a response to his father that he didn’t need a ride home.

A little more than an hour later, a passerby found the boy unconscious in a concrete ditch alongside Salem Church Road, near the library and less than 3 miles from his home. He’d suffered serious head injuries, a collapsed lung, broken ribs and other internal injuries.

Last week marked eight years since Kevin was found mortally wounded in the ditch, a spot marked in the years since by a roadside memorial with his photo, a sign (“GOD KNOWS”). A wooden cross and stuffed bear have become weathered with time.

Thousands of cars pass the spot each day where Kevin was left alone, in the dark, which is how he remained in the hospital for eight days, until his family allowed him to be removed from life support.

That closed shut one part of the tragic end to Kevin Sullivan Jr.’s life.

The next chapter continues to linger. No answers have come to the mystery of what happened, and no arrests have been made.

Hit-and-run was the initial suspicion of detectives with the Sheriff’s Office, the family has said. The boy’s father, Kevin Sullivan Sr., has voiced his doubts about what some believe happened.

The teenager was known as a walker, though. If he was traveling on foot alongside Salem Church Road in that spot, especially at night, it was a bad move. The shoulder there is tiny and footing is awkward. Cars fly past.

Tomorrow afternoon, when the clock strikes 3:13, it will mark eight years since the teenager took his final breath.

Kevin was an organ donor, so maybe today he’s helping keep someone else alive—though it’s likely unknown to the recipient.

Maybe whoever caused Kevin’s death is still around, too—alive, and holding onto a pretty dark secret.

Maybe one day the mystery of Kevin’s death will be solved. Until then, the sign alongside the road is the only answer we have.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436 sshenk@freelancestar.com

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