ANAHEIM, Calif. — A memorial of flowers, candles, and photos of a young family were brought in remembrance by community members to the Los Cerritos Park in Long Beach.
Joseph Awaida, Raihan Dakhil, and their 3-year-old son Omar were hit by 20-year-old driver Carlo Navarro who police suspect was driving under the influence on Halloween night. All three family members died from their injuries.
Mohammad Kaskas mourned with Awaida’s father and uncle at the Al-Ansar Mosque in Anaheim and said he’s known the Awaida family since Awaida was a teen.
“Everybody loved them. If you met Joseph you would love him from the first five minutes you’d sit with him. Amazing guy. Even if you’d do something wrong in front of him he’d never hurt you, he’d never bother you, the worst thing he’d do to you is smile at you and leave,” Kaskas said.
Almost every person at the mosque that day had a memory to share about Awaida and his family. Their deaths brought dozens of family members and friends to grieve with his father and uncle. In this time of need, the community has come together and raised more than $200,000 on a GoFundMe account to help pay for the family’s medical and funeral expenses. Kaskas said this is the first funeral he’s seen where so many people from the community have come together.
“It’s very difficult. They didn’t lose just one, they lost a whole family. The husband, wife, and a son. If he was sick and died? Everybody would expect something like this. But, when they die just out of an accident like this? It’s very difficult,” Kaskas said.
At the mosque, those who knew the family found some comfort in praying for Awaida’s little family and the family members in mourning. Community members each offered their condolences to his father and uncle as they remembered moments they had with the young family — a family that was taken too soon.
“Everything that was good was in this guy. We used to always think that he’s not going to live for a long time because he is an amazing guy. We have a saying back home that says very good people don’t last long in this life,” Kaskas said.
The loss of the Awaida family has left a lasting mark in the community and all Kaskas can do now is hope that the family see’s justice for the loss they have been forced to mourn.
The driver, Navarro, was released on a $100,000 bond.