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Three members of a California family have died after they were struck by an alleged drunk driver on Halloween night while the family was out trick-or-treating in a residential area.
Joseph Awaida, 30, his wife Raihan Dakhil, 32, and the couple’s 3-year-old son Omar Owaida all succumbed to their injuries.
The Long Beach family had reportedly been walking along the sidewalk in a residential area just before 10 p.m. Thursday when a 2002 Toyota Sequoia “failed to negotiate a turn” in the road and drove onto the sidewalk striking all three members of the family, according to a statement from the Long Beach Police Department.
The family had taken their young son out for trick-or-treating for the first time that night, local station KCBS-TV reports.
At least two of the victims were left trapped under another parked car along Country Club Drive and Los Cerritos Park Place after the vehicle crashed into them from behind.
“It’s just tragic. Never saw it coming,” one neighbor who captured the crash on his surveillance camera told The Long Beach Post News.
The driver of the car—later identified as 20-year-old Carlo Navarro—stayed at the scene and was later charged with driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter, police said.
He was released on a $100,000 bail Friday night, the local paper reports.
All three victims were taken to the hospital; however, the injuries would prove to be too severe. Awaida died from his injuries the following morning, according to KTLA. His young son died on Saturday, while Dakhil died Sunday after she was removed from life support.
The victims’ families are now left grieving the devastating loss.
“It feels like I’m in a never-ending nightmare,” Dakhil’s brother, Mohammed Dakhil told KTLA as thousands gathered Monday evening for a funeral at the Islamic Society of Orange County.
He called his slain sister his “ride or die” partner and described her as compassionate and easy to talk to.
Those who knew the couple described them as wonderful people who had been actively involved in the community, often spending their time volunteering to help others.
“They are kind, compassionate, and loving parents,” Michele Winterstein, executive director of the nonprofit For The Child, told the Long Beach Post News.
The couple, who were described as very religious, had volunteered with the organization providing support for young children during police interviews and medical exams as part of child abuse investigations.
“This is a devastating loss to their families and to all of us in the nonprofit world who knew them and benefited from their volunteer service,” Winterstein said.
Awaida was a regular fixture at his father’s auto repair shop, Joe’s Auto Center, where he had worked for years.
After the family was killed, a note hung outside the business that said it would be closed until further notice due to the loss.
The Awaida family suffered another tragic loss just five years ago when Joseph Awaida’s younger brother, Omar, died after suffering a head injury from a fall during a camping trip with two of his older brothers, according to The Long Beach Press Telegram.
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