Vigil to be Held for Family Killed by Accused Drunk Driver in Long Beach

Family Photo

A candlelight vigil for a family killed by a suspected drunk driver in Long Beach is planned for Thursday night as a fundraiser for their medical and funeral costs near its $250,000 goal.

The family of three were trick-or-treating when they were struck and critically injured by a vehicle that jumped a curb on Country Club Drive on Oct. 31, according to the Long Beach Police Department. The driver was detained at the scene, with a DUI investigation launched.

Joseph Awaida, a 30-year-old man who ran a Long Beach auto shop with his father, died from his injuries. His son, 3-year-old Omar Awaida, died Saturday morning, police said.

Organizers of a fundraiser on GoFundMe created to support the family announced that Joseph's wife Raihan Dakhil, 32, also died after being taken off life support on Sunday. Those who knew her said she had dreams of being a social worker.

The GoFundMe campaign was created to cover medical and funeral costs for the extended family, with any donations over the $250,000 pledged toward a "legacy project" honoring the three who were killed. By Thursday afternoon, the fundraiser had collected over $225,000.

Another fundraiser on LaunchGood aimed to collect an additional $175,000 for the extended family.

A funeral for the family was held Monday, according to the GoFundMe organizers, which included Joseph’s aunt Cecilia Ramos. The organizers announced the family, who were Muslim, would also be remembered in three consecutive services at Muslim community centers. Awaida and Dakhil were actively involved with the community, helping with Sunday schools and feeding the homeless during interfaith events.

"I really don't know how our family is going to survive without the joy of little Omar and the patience and kindness of Joey and Ray," Ramos said. "They were really wonderful people."

"Joey and his wife were so loving, so kind, gentle and helpful to everybody that their presence had such a calming effect," she added.

The candlelight vigil for the family will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at Los Cerritos Park in Long Beach, close to where the crash occurred.

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