Long Beach toddler dies after suspected DUI crash while trick-or-treating on Halloween
A 3-year-old Long Beach boy died Saturday after being struck in a suspected DUI crash while trick-or-treating Halloween night.
The boy’s father was killed and his mother critically injured when the driver of a 2002 Toyota Sequoia traveling southbound on Country Club Drive near Los Cerritos Park failed to make a turn, drove onto the sidewalk and hit the family about 9:55 p.m. Thursday, Long Beach police said in a statement.
The driver of the vehicle, 20-year-old Carlo Navarro of Long Beach, was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter and is being held in the Long Beach City Jail on $100,000 bail.
Police have not identified the family, but a GoFundMe page identified the boy as Omar Awaida and his parents as Joseph Awaida and Raihan Dakhil. According to the page, 2,300 donors had raised nearly $141,000 for funeral and medical expenses. Another site, Launchgood, had raised nearly $115,000 from more than 1,800 donors.
The donors — friends, neighbors, teachers and customers of Joe’s Auto Center, an Awaida family business in Long Beach — expressed shock and heartbreak at news of the tragedy. Well-wishers made a memorial at the collision site, leaving flowers, candles and stuffed animals.
Dakhil, 32, was a social work intern at Long Beach Unified School District last year who “served so many students with her kind spirit, giving heart and unconditional acceptance of everyone she meets. She is a healer at her core,” wrote Sheri Koller on the GoFundMe page.
Awaida, 30, was working as an office manager at his father’s auto shop and studying to become a doctor, according to Kenyatta Omar, a close friend and fellow member of Masjid Al-Shareef.
“He’s one of those friends you love to see come and hate to see go,” said Omar, whose father headed the mosque for two decades before dying of an illness in April. “With his smile and cheerfulness, he was the one to uplift you if you were sad.”
Omar said news of the tragedy spread quickly in the close-knit Muslim community in Long Beach. He received a call about it at 6 a.m on Friday from a tearful imam at another mosque and the community has rallied since then to support the family with food, donations and messages of support.
He added that the deaths were even more devastating because the family had suffered another tragedy in 2014, when Awaida’s then 13-year-old brother, Omar, was killed after slipping off a cliff during a family camping trip. Awaida named his son after his brother, according to Imam Abu Ishaq Abdulhafiz of Masjid Al-Shareef.
“Everyone was devastated but they never wavered in their faith,” Abdulhafiz said. “They are a strong example of people who trusted in God.”
Awaida’s father, Yousef, was an immigrant from Jordan and his wife, Vera, was a Long Beach native who raised their four sons to be kind, respectful and devout members of the community, Omar said. He added that Joseph was particularly close to his father and his favorite hobby was spending time with his family.
Awaida and Dakhil were a “power team” in the Long Beach Muslim community who joined interfaith gatherings, helped feed the homeless, taught Sunday School and volunteered at mosque events, Omar said.
Omar said Dakhil remained in a coma. The couple’s son was taken off life support Saturday morning.
A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Los Cerritos Park, 3750 Del Mar Ave.
Police are asking anyone with video surveillance footage or other information about the collision to contact Collision Investigation Detective Sirilo Garcia at (562) 570-7355 or email@example.com.
Anonymous tips may be submitted through L.A. Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), downloading the “P3 Tips” app to your smartphone (available at the Apple App store and Google Play), or visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.
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