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Refugee family killed in Columbus car crash remembered by community

Police investigate the scene of a collision between a car and a police cruiser in Upper Arlington, Ohio, early Friday.
Police investigate the scene of a collision between a car and a police cruiser in Upper Arlington, Ohio, early Friday.Tom Dodge / Columbus Dispatch via AP

The six people killed early Friday when their car collided with a police cruiser in Columbus, Ohio, were members of an Iraqi refugee family who came to the United States less than three years ago.

The victims were identified as Eid Badi Shahad, 39; his wife, Entisar W. Hameed, 31; and their daughters Shuaa Badi, 16; Amna Badi, 14; Ekbal Bai, 12; and Lina Badi, 2.

Shahad and his family were refugees from Basra, Iraq who resettled in Columbus in January 2011, according to Angela Plummer, executive director of Community Refugee and Immigration Services, a non-profit agency that helps refugees and immigrants in central Ohio.

The family was among the first Iraqi refugee families to resettle in Ohio.

Left behind are five sons from 17 to 5 years of age, who were home with Shahad’s mother at the time of the crash.

The crash, the deadliest in Ohio this year, occurred when a police officer responding to a report of a robbery at a McDonald’s struck the Shahads car as it sat stopped in an intersection.

Plummer said that while she had not seen the family for a while, Eid Shahad had visited the refugee-support offices recently because he was going to help sponsor an incoming family that is due to arrive next month.

“We were all devastated, like everyone is; these people have lost their lives, and these children, what they’re going to be going through,” she said. “We’re just hopeful that we can be there to support them in whatever way possible.”

Shahad had run a red light at the junction of Riverside Drive and Fishinger Road at around 1:30 a.m. Friday, before stopping in the intersection, according to the Columbus Dispatch

“He went through the intersection and, for whatever reason, he just stopped,” Perry Township Police Chief Robert Oppenheimer told the Dispatch. “Whether he saw the cruiser coming or he realized he ran the red light and was going to back up, we’ll probably never know.”

The officer involved in the crash is believed to have been travelling within the speed limit with his police lights flashing and siren on. 

Plummer said the local community has banded together to support the family. She added that she was heartened at reports of neighbors, many of whom are refugees from Somalia, who had “recognized how this family had been extremely helpful member of the community.”

“I’m hearing about community members stepping forward, we are all concerned about the children, trying to raise support for them,” she said.

“I have been inspired many times over many years by how refugee communities step in and help one another, and I’m optimistic that will happen here, but there will be challenges,” she added. 

The Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Dublin, Ohio is holding a funeral service and memorial for the family on Saturday evening before the six are buried at Islamic Cemetery of Columbus, according to Rehan Chawdry, a board member at the center. The memorial will end with a candlelight vigil where the tragedy began, at the intersection of Fishinger Road and Riverside Drive.