Girl hit and killed by BC Transit bus was Syrian refugee
Members of Abbotsford's Muslim community paid their last respects to a nine-year-old Syrian refugee who died after being hit by a transit bus on Friday.
The girl's name was Hala Albarhoum, and she and her family came to Canada just over a year ago as government-sponsored refugees from Syria. She was laid to rest on Saturday following a funeral ceremony at the Abbotsford Islamic Centre.
A family friend says the Albarhoums have been devastated by the unexpected tragedy.
"They left Syria and they came over to Canada to find safety…away from the missiles and the bombs," Adnan Baht told CTV News. "And then finally, when people expect that they're safe, there's a small accident that takes away their loved one."
The fatal collision happened at South Fraser Way and Hill-Tout Street around 8:20 a.m. Police say it was still quite dark and raining heavily at the time.
Now, Baht has started a GoFundMe page to take the pressure off the new Canadian family as they deal with their loss. Since a year has passed since their arrival, they no longer receive any government assistance.
"We want to help them and support their daily essential needs," said Baht. "Because from what I know, the father hasn't been able to secure a stable job."
He wants to use the money to buy the family a vehicle, and to cover the funeral costs.
He remembers Hala as a shy but fierce girl.
"I'm told… from one of her classmates… She was someone who always stood up for the right thing, even in school," he said.
The parents have four surviving children.
Tahir Khalid, president of the Abbotsford Islami Centre, said that he's trying his best to comfort the family.
"I met the father yesterday in the hospital," he said. "Needless to say he was quite devastated."
Hala was a student at Ten-Broeck Elementary School. Parents with children at the school are also coming together calling for action to make the intersection safer. Sometimes there is a crossing guard where Hala was hit. But on Friday, there wasn't.
"I don't know if it's a decision on someone's part to save money, but saving money when it comes to children's safety is not worth saving money," said Emerson Hernandez, a father of another student at the school.
Hernandez hopes the school district will evaluate how often there are crossing supervisors.
"This was absolutely avoidable. This did not have to happen," he said.
Abbotsford police are investigating the incident, and BC Transit is also conducting an internal investigation.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Breanna Karstens-Smith