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Woman shepherds her best friend, who died in Haiti's earthquake, home to U.S.

Thursday, January 21, 2010; A15

Sue Frame sat on a blanket at the side of the runway Wednesday morning with a bandanna pulled up over her mouth and nose and a white body bag at her side.

Inside the bag was her best friend, and she was waiting for a U.S. military helicopter to take him back to the United States, where his parents were waiting.

Frame opened her friend's dusty passport to show his photo: Flora Raven McGarrell, a 35-year-old artist with dark hair and intense eyes. They met 16 years ago at the Maryland Institute College of Art. They were in the Baltimore performance art group Little Big Bang together, lived together, survived a fire together, lost everything, found it.

McGarrell had run a nonprofit art center in Jacmel for the past couple of years. Frame came to Jacmel two weeks ago, and they went to a new hotel, the Peace of Mind, on Jan. 12.

They got papaya smoothies, ham-and-cheese sandwiches and checked their e-mail at one of the few places in town with a wireless connection. They were eating, and all of sudden, "the building looked like water," Frame said.

She yelled, and they started running. She looked back and saw him hesitate and turn back. The building, opened just weeks ago, collapsed.

On Tuesday night, she and a friend found a body bag and brought her best friend to the airport. On Wednesday, all she had to do was wait and get him home.

-- Susan Kinzie in Jacmel

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