A mother, father and their three-year-old son were remembered during a vigil held at Cal State Long Beach Tuesday evening, less than a week after they were struck by a suspected DUI driver on Halloween night.
The family of three was returning home from trick-or-treating and walking along a sidewalk when they were hit by a 22-year-old man suspected of driving under the influence, according to police. They all eventually died from their injuries — each a day apart.
On Tuesday, members of the campus community at Cal State Long Beach remembered 32-year-old Raihan Awaida as a graduate of the university who earned her master’s degree in social work just this past May.
She died Sunday night following the deaths of her husband and son, authorities said. Joseph Awaida, 30, was pronounced dead the morning after the crash and the couple’s 3-year-old son, Omar, died of his injuries the following day.
Raihan was identified as a former Cal State Long Beach student in a campus email written by university President Jane Close Conoley, who indicated Omar attended the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center on campus. The college held a 6 p.m. vigil in the courtyard of the center to remember all three.
“Whether you are a student, faculty or staff member; from our alumni or neighboring community; or a youngster in a campus child development center — you are part of our family,” Conoley wrote in the email. “We feel each loss in our own way, but we lift up each other — together.”
Classmates, faculty and family members spoke at the campus vigil, and all those gathered sang Omar’s favorite song, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
Vera Awaida, Joseph’s mom and Omar’s grandmother, addressed the crowd.
“We are so devastated,” she said. “We just take one breath at a time.”
The family was walking down Country Club Drive in Long Beach when a 2002 Toyota Sequoia collided into them near Los Cerritos Park, according to police. Carlo Navarro, the suspected DUI driver, was arrested and then released from custody after apparently posting $100,000 bail.
Navarro allegedly failed to make a turn before driving onto the sidewalk and hitting the family. All three were initially described by authorities as being in critical condition.
On Monday evening, thousands gathered at the Islamic Society of Orange County to pray for them.
Mohammed Dakhil, Raihan’s brother, described her as his “ride-or-die” and said her husband was a compassionate and easy-going person. Dakhil described his 3-year-old nephew, Omar, as “such a sweet little boy.”
“It feels like I’m in a never-ending nightmare,” he said.
Another one of Raihan’s other brothers, who wished to be only identified by his last name, said they were the most “selfless human beings on the planet” and that his sister raised him.
“She’s always been the one to call whenever I had a problem,” he said. “Whenever I had any doubts about anything, she was always there.”
Raihan was previously identified by KTLA by her maiden name, Dakhil.
Also on Tuesday night, mourners were welcomed to pay their respects at the West Coast Islamic Society in Anaheim between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. and during the same time Wednesday at the Long Beach Islamic Center.
Another vigil was expected to be held by the city of Long Beach at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Los Cerritos Park on Del Mar Avenue.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses and other costs.
Correction: A previous headline and accompanying video gave an incorrect description of the suspected criminal nature of the crash. The post has since been updated.