Man charged in al­leged drink-drive deaths of four Le­banese chil­dren

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON -

SYD­NEY/BEIRUT: An al­leged drunk driver has been charged with mul­ti­ple of­fenses, in­clud­ing man­slaugh­ter, af­ter an SUV struck seven chil­dren on a Syd­ney side­walk, killing four and se­ri­ously in­jur­ing a fifth.

The in­ci­dent took place be­fore 8 p.m. Satur­day. The ve­hi­cle was driven by Sa­muel David­son, po­lice said.

Three of the chil­dren who were killed were sib­lings. The fourth child killed was the daugh­ter of their fa­ther’s cousin.

Prime Min­is­ter Has­san Diab said in a tweet Sun­day, “This tragedy has af­fected all of Le­banon and not just the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims.”

“As a mother I share the sor­row of the Ab­dal­lah fam­ily,” said Jus­tice Min­is­ter Marie Claude Najm.

She added that she will fol­low up, in co­or­di­na­tion with the Le­banese For­eign Min­istry, on in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the in­ci­dent by au­thor­i­ties in Syd­ney.

Le­banon’s For­eign Min­istry of­fered its con­do­lences to the be­reaved fam­i­lies in a state­ment re­leased Satur­day evening.

For­eign Min­is­ter Nas­sif Hitti gave in­struc­tions to the Le­banese Am­bas­sador in Aus­tralia to fol­low up on the in­ci­dent and pro­vide help to the griev­ing fam­i­lies.

Speak­ing to re­porters Sun­day, the fa­ther of the three chil­dren, Danny Ab­dal­lah, said, “I don’t know what to say. I’m numb. All I want to say is: please, driv­ers, be care­ful.”

“These kids were just walk­ing in­no­cently, en­joy­ing each other’s com­pany ... and this morn­ing I woke up and I have lost three kids,” he added.

His chil­dren Antony, 13, An­gelina, 12 and Si­enna, 9, were killed. Their 10-year-old brother, who was in­jured in the in­ci­dent, is in hospi­tal in a se­ri­ous but sta­ble con­di­tion.

Ab­dal­lah added that his cousin had lost an 11-year-old child named Veronique Sakr in the tragedy.

An­other two girls, aged 10 and 13, suf­fered mi­nor in­juries, au­thor­i­ties said.

David­son, the al­leged driver, was ar­rested at the scene on Satur­day and re­mains in cus­tody.

The 20 charges against him, in­clud­ing four of man­slaugh­ter, were read in a Syd­ney court on Sun­day. He did not ap­pear in court and was re­fused bail un­til his next court ap­pear­ance on April 2.

David­son has not en­tered any pleas. Man­slaugh­ter car­ries a po­ten­tial max­i­mum sen­tence of 25 years in prison.

David­son al­legedly recorded a blood-al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tion of 0.15 per­cent – three-times the le­gal limit in Aus­tralia.

Act­ing As­sis­tant Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Jason Joyce said the driver re­mained at the scene un­til the po­lice ar­rived and there were in­di­ca­tions his 24-year-old male pas­sen­ger had tried to help some of the chil­dren. Nei­ther the driver nor the pas­sen­ger was in­jured. – As­so­ci­ated Press, The Daily Star

The vic­tims’ mother Leila Geagea, right, pauses near flow­ers placed at the scene where seven chil­dren were hit on a foot­path by the four-wheel drive in the Syd­ney.

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