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California father mourns 'perfect son' killed in Sri Lanka bombing

Alex Riggins, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

LAKESIDE, Calif. -- Alexander Arrow spent the first two weeks of April with his only child, 11-year-old Kieran A. Shafritz de Zoysa, who was visiting Arrow's Lakeside home for spring break. They played board games -- a shared passion -- kayaked on the San Vicente Reservoir and visited with cousins and other family.

On Sunday, April 14, Kieran left the San Diego area to make his way back to Sri Lanka, where he was finishing his studies at an elite international school in his mother's family's homeland.

One week later, Kieran was killed in one of the Easter Sunday bombings that left at least 359 dead and more than 500 injured at churches and hotels across Sri Lanka.

"He was the best son that a father could hope for," Arrow said Tuesday night. "Every dad thinks their son is the best, but he really was the perfect son. He was just the most agreeable, friendly, insightful and articulate 11-year-old."

Kieran never lived full time in San Diego, but visited his father often as Arrow moved up and down California. Arrow settled in Lakeside about a year and a half ago, planning to make it his permanent base. Kieran was supposed to come back in June and stay the whole summer.

Instead, Arrow must now navigate the grief and heartache of losing his only child.


"Everything is a memory trigger," Arrow said. "Everything in my house. Every show. Everything triggers the memory of him."

Kieran was set to finish his time in Sri Lanka in just a few months. He'd been studying there, at the Elizabeth Moir International School in Colombo, for what would have been 18 months, had he finished the school year. On top of learning Sinhala, one of Sri Lanka's official languages, Kieran was also learning Mandarin, according to his father.

To live and study in Sri Lanka, he'd taken a break from Washington, D.C.'s elite Sidwell Friends School -- the school where Sasha and Malia Obama and Chelsea Clinton were educated.

"He had completed 4th grade at Sidwell, and was about to return this fall as an incoming 7th grader, skipping the 6th grade," his father wrote in an email Tuesday night. "He was in the top of his class in both schools."


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