A 17-year-old boy had to identify the bodies of his parents and four sisters killed in an Ohio car accident involving a police officer responding to a call about a robbery, a social worker helping surviving relatives said Saturday.
Majeda Mohammad, a case worker for Community Refugee and Immigration Services in Columbus, has been with the family almost constantly since the early morning Friday crash killed 39-year-old Eid Badi Shahad, his wife, 31-year-old Entisar Hameed, and their four daughters, who ranged from 2 to 16 years old. They leave behind four sons, who are 5, 6, 12 and 17 years old.
The family are refugees from Basra, Iraq, who moved to the U.S. three years ago and loved their new life in America, Mohammad said.
She said the 17-year-old, Mushary Badi, is in unimaginable pain after learning of the loss and identifying his family members’ bodies but that he has begun assuming a caretaker role for his grief-stricken grandmother and younger brothers.
“He came home from the hospital and called for his youngest brother and he said, ‘I need to give him a hug.’ And he hugged his brother and cried,” Mohammad said. “Then he called each of them one by one and hugged them and said that he would take care of them. Then he told his grandmother not to worry.”
A funeral for the family was set for Saturday evening after regular prayers at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center just outside of Columbus, with hundreds expected to attend and family members traveling from Kuwait, Canada, Maine and Texas to be there. A candlelight vigil was expected to follow.
Shahad, who was driving, and his family are believed to have been killed almost instantly after a police cruiser responding to a robbery T-boned their car while it was stopped in the middle of an intersection around 1:30 a.m. Friday.
The police car had its lights flashing and siren blaring, and a dash-camera video shows the family’s Toyota Corolla had a red light when it reached the intersection and came to a complete stop just before the crash.
Shahad may have realized he ran the red light and was going to back up or he may have froze, Chief Robert Oppenheimer of Perry Township police said.
Officer Shawn Paynter, who was driving the car that hit the Shahad family, was released from the hospital after being treated for a serious head injury, said Officer Heather Galli, a spokeswoman for the Upper Arlington Police Department. He is dealing with the shock of the accident with his wife and parents, she said.