An online fundraiser to repatriate the bodies of a family of three who lost their lives in a collision on the M6 last week has raised nearly €100,000 in two days.
Karzan Sabah D Ahmed (36 ), his wife, Shahen Qasm (31 ), and their eight-month-old daughter Lina died following a three vehicle crash close to Poolboy in east Galway last Thursday, August 19.
Mr Ahmed, an environmental scientist, had recently completed a PhD at NUI Galway, and the family was preparing to relocate to Carlow, where Mr Sabah was due to take up a position as a lecturer. Mr Ahmed and his wife Shahen, an engineer, were returning from viewing properties in Carlow when the collision occurred.
Friends of the family, who were originally from Erbil, Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, set up a GoFundMe page on Monday to raise the estimated €40,000 required to repatriate their bodies to their home country for burial. At the time of going to press, donations had reached €98,000.
“We were all left devastated, heartbroken, and confused by such a senseless loss,” family friend John Carey wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Their lives were only just beginning, with Karzan having just submitted his PhD thesis, secured a new job, and of course the unbridled joy of Lina being born. They were so happy. The only small comfort we have is knowing that they are still together.
'Karzan impressed everyone who met him with his enthusiasm, work ethic, and friendly demeanour'
“We now desperately want to repatriate them back to their families in Erbil in the Kurdish region of Iraq so that they can be close to their loved ones. It would have meant a great deal to Karzan and Shahen.
“You would not have meet two nicer people, who loved Ireland and touched the lives of those they met,” he added. “Many of us didn’t get to meet Lina, and she never got to meet her family in Iraq. The shortness of her life is particularly difficult to understand. The least we can do is try and get them home so that they can find some peace.”
Teagasc opens book of condolence
Mr Sabah had just accepted a position at Teagasc when he died. The State body has also opened a book of condolence for his colleagues, which will be passed on to his family.
“It is with deep sadness that Teagasc learned of the very sad passing of our colleague Karzan Sabah D Ahmed,” Teagasc said in a statement. “After completing his PhD in environmental science in a joint NUI Galway – Teagasc FarmEcos project, Karzan commenced a research position in Teagasc Oak Park, Carlow, on the BioCrops project.”
“Although Karzan had only recently started working with us, he had already impressed everyone who met him with his enthusiasm, work ethic, and friendly demeanour. A skilled entomologist with extensive experience in Iraq, UK, and Ireland, Karzan had already published widely, and it was clear he was going to make a significant contribution and achieve his goals.
“At this time, our thoughts and prayers go out to Karzan and Shahen’s families in Iraq and their extended network of friends in the Irish Kurdish community. We are compiling a book of condolence from Teagasc colleagues to pass onto the family. At a later stage in the year a memorial service will be held in NUI Galway.”
Jonasz Lach, who was driving one of the three vehicles involved, also died in the crash. It is understood Mr Lach was driving the wrong way on the M6 when his car collided with the Ahmed family’s car and another vehicle. All four were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the third vehicle was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Appeal for witnesses
Gardaí have this week renewed their appeal for witnesses to the crash, which occurred at around 7.40pm. Gardai have also appealed to road users who were travelling along the M6 around this time, and who may have camera and/or dash-cam footage, to make this footage available to investigators.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Ballinasloe Garda Station on 09096 31890, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.
Donations can be made to the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/ue8hrt-bring-karzan-shahen-and-baby-lina-home The family’s bodies are due to be repatriated to Kurdistan in the coming days.