[Editor’s note: The story will be updated as more information comes in]
A vase with purple flowers is set up in front of the “Los Cerritos Park” sign on the corner of Los Cerritos Park Place and Country Club Drive. Caution tape surrounds the area as local residents begin appearing somberly. Just last night on Halloween, a young family of three was struck, leaving a father dead, and a mother and child hospitalized in critical condition.
“They never saw it coming,” said Tom Burniston, who lives across the street on Country Club Dr. where the fatal collision occurred.
“They were walking home with a little baby in a stroller, when the car ran up on the curb and hit them on the back,” said Burniston.
“I watched it,” said Burniston solemnly.
“They never saw it coming.”
“The car drove them forward and smashed both of them into the water fountain, they [the couple] and the kid and the water faucet kept coming forward until they hit this stuff here, [Burniston points a couple yards away towards Los Cerritos Park Place] everybody smashed into that and it still kept coming, the car stopped here and two people ended up under that car across the street,” explained Burniston.
“The guy must have been going 50 or 60 around that curb, he didn’t turn, he just kept going straight.”
Justice Bowens, a resident who lives across the street from where the collision occurred on Los Cerritos Park Place, was also trick-or-treating in the same area.
“We were trick-or-treating from around 7:00pm to 8:30pm last night, my friend texted me about the accident that happened right here. I pray for the baby and the mother.”
A Bixby Knolls resident who did not want to disclose her name said, “I’m just heartbroken, it’s so sad, they must’ve been just walking home from trick-or-treating. Every year a lot of people come to the area for trick-or-treating, it’s a safe area.”
All three family members were transported to local hospitals, the mother and child are in critical condition and the father succumbed to his injuries.
A post on Bixby Knolls Community page on Facebook by the victim’s aunt, Cecilia Ramos identified the adult male victim who died as Joseph Awaida. The adult female was identified as Raihan Dakhil.
A GoFundMe has been organized to help the family.
According to the GoFundMe page, Joseph and his family are Muslim, and according to custom, burials are usually conducted within 24 hours of passing.
[UPDATE Nov. 1, 7:30AM] In less than 24 hours, $76,772 was raised for the Awaida family, $1,772 over their $75,000 goal.
Joseph Awaida succumbed to the injuries sustained after being hit by a 20-year old driver driving under the influence. His 3-year old son Omar and wife Raihan Dakhil suffered severe life threatening injuries.
Over 1,200 donors contributed to the cause, with over 3,300 shares throughout social media and online, according to the fundraising website.
[UPDATE Nov. 1, 10:00AM] $85,928 has been raised on their GoFundMe page, $10,000 over their goal.
[UPDATE Nov. 1, 11:55AM] The 3-year old son, Omar, has passed away, according to family members. The mother Raihan Dakhil is currently on life support.
Their GoFundMe has raised $97,177.
UPDATE: Nov. 3, 1:19PM Their GoFundMe has raised $105,018.
UPDATE: Nov. 3, 7:50PM The GoFundMe has raised $170,461.
The funeral services for Joseph and Omar are now confirmed for Monday, Nov 4th.
UPDATE: Nov. 3, 9:35PM Carlo Adrian Navarro of Long Beach, 20, who was detained at the scene and later arrested for allegedly driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter. He was jailed on $100,000 bail.
Navarro posted bond and was released at 9:42 p.m. Friday, according to the Sheriff’s Inmate Information Center.
UPDATE: Nov. 4, 9:35AM Raihan Dakhil, 32, whose husband and son were killed when the family was struck on a Long Beach sidewalk by an alleged drunken driver on Halloween night has also died after being taken off life support.
Dakhil’s husband, 30-year-old Joseph Awaida, died shortly after being struck by the SUV. Her 3-year-old son, Omar Awaida, died Saturday at a hospital.
Their GoFundMe has raised $186,631, with over 3,200 donors contributed to the cause, with over 9,100 shares throughout social media and online, according to the fundraising website.
The Awaida family is part of the local Muslim community and own Joe’s Auto Center in Long Beach. The GoFundMe post says the fund is for “medical, funeral and other financial burdens the family will have to endure as a result of this tragedy.” An update posted later said, “In response to the overwhelming generosity this campaign is receiving, the family intends to use any excess funds (beyond the above stated scope) towards a lasting legacy project (Sadaqa Jariya), to be determined in the near future. Thank you again for your support.”
A public candlelight vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at Los Cerritos Park, 3750 Del Mar Ave.
UPDATE: Nov. 6, 10:22AM Over $226,303 has been raised on the GoFundMe campaign for the Awaida family. Over 4,000 donors contributed to the cause, with over 11,000 shares throughout social media and online, according to the fundraising website.
Another fundraiser, set up on the site LaunchGood, has raised more than $170,000 from about 3,100 donors, with a stated goal of $175,000.