Family of 3 Dies After Being Hit by Alleged Drunk Driver While Walking Together on Halloween Night
Joseph Awaida, Raihan Dakhil, and their 3-year-old son Omar sadly all succumbed to their injuries following the Long Beach accident
A community in Southern California has been left heartbroken after a family of three was tragically killed by an alleged drunk driver who struck them on Halloween night while they were walking on the sidewalk.
Joseph Awaida, Raihan Dakhil-Awaida, and their 3-year-old son Omar sadly all succumbed to their injuries in the days following the fatal accident, according to a press release from the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) and a GoFundMe page created by the family’s loved ones.
The deadly crash involving the 2002 Toyota Sequoia and the three pedestrians occurred on Thursday night in Long Beach just before 10 p.m.
Authorities said the family was walking on the sidewalk near Country Club Drive and Los Cerritos Park Place when the driver, identified as Long Beach resident Carlo Navarro, “failed to negotiate a turn in the roadway, drove up onto the sidewalk, and struck the three pedestrians.”
“Long Beach Fire Department personnel responded and began administering life-saving measures to the critically injured pedestrians,” a spokesperson with the LBPD wrote, adding that “all three pedestrians were transported to local hospitals.”
Not long after arriving at the hospital, Joseph, 30, sadly died from his injuries. Two days later, an LBPD spokesperson confirmed that Omar had passed away on Saturday, while the child’s mother, 32-year-old Raihan, also died on Sunday night.
Their unexpected deaths in the residential area on Halloween left neighbors heartbroken and speechless.
“It’s just tragic. Never saw it coming,” Mark, a neighbor whose home cameras captured the crash, told The Long Beach Post News.
Navarro, 20, was detained by authorities at the scene, where a DUI investigation was initiated. He was later arrested and booked into Long Beach County Jail for driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter.
Inmate records obtained by PEOPLE indicate that Navarro was released on Friday, Nov. 1 on a $100,000 bond. No court date has been released.
It is not immediately clear if Navarro has retained legal representation yet.
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The Awaidas were a beloved family in their Long Beach community, according to The Long Beach Post News.
For years, Joseph had worked at his father’s repair shop, Joe’s Auto Center. A letter posted outside of Joe’s Auto Center, obtained by the outlet, says the shop is now closed until further notice due to the unexpected deaths.
“Thank you for your support. Joseph loved his community here,” the note reads.
The “tight-knit, religious family” also often involved themselves in volunteer work around the Los Cerritos neighborhood.
“They are kind, compassionate, and loving parents,” Michele Winterstein, executive director of the nonprofit For The Child, told the local outlet. “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.”
Their deaths were especially devastating for Joseph’s parents, who already endured the loss of their other son, Omar, after he died from his injuries in a hiking accident in 2014, according to the Post News.
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In the wake of the tragedy, the Awaida family’s loved ones have been rallying together — first to help with medical expenses on GoFundMe, and now to assist with funeral costs, with the remainder of the funds to go towards a lasting legacy project.
Within three days, over $209,000 has been raised on the page. (Another fundraiser on LaunchGood has also been created for the family, with an additional $163,000 raised on that platform.)
Their relatives have also used the GoFundMe to share fond memories of the Awaidas and spread the word about their upcoming vigils, services, and burials, which are all scheduled for this week.
“Angel and I are so sorry for this family’s loss. We have been customers at Joe’s auto repair for over 5 years and have had Joseph give us rides home many times. The loss of him, his wife and child is heartbreaking. Please accept our condolences,” wrote one person.
“We are stunned and saddened to hear about the loss of such a wonderful family,” added another user.
One of the first memorial events held was a prayer on Monday afternoon at the Islamic Society of Orange County. According to KTLA, thousands of people showed up to the service to pay their respects to the Awaidas.
Anyone with information on the fatal crash is asked to contact Detective Sirilo Garcia with the Long Beach Police Department at 562-570-7355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those with information may also submit anonymous tips through “LA Crime Stoppers” by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).