The parents and siblings of four children killed when they were hit by an alleged drunk and drug driver recalled the traumatic moments immediately after the crash – as never-before-seen footage emerged showing the kids happily chatting seconds before tragedy struck.
Siblings Antony, Angelina and Sienna Abdallah, aged 13, 12 and eight, and their 11-year-old cousin Veronique Sakr, died on February 1 while walking to their local supermarket in Oatlands, in Sydney’s north-west, to buy ice cream.
The children were celebrating their cousin’s birthday on the day of their deaths – and it was the first time they had been given permission to walk to the store without parental supervision.
Seven children were struck just before 8pm on Bettington Road, one of the main thoroughfares through Oatlands, allegedly by the drunk son of a former NSW detective, Samuel William Davidson, who is accused of having drugs in his system at the time.
Charbel Kassas was trailing behind his cousins on a push bike when they were swiped from behind.
He was thrown from the bike, which was crushed in the crash, and was so badly injured his heart stopped at the scene.
Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna Abdallah, eight, (pictured, left) and their cousin Veronique Sakr, 11, (right) were allegedly mowed down by drunk driver Samuel William Davidson as they walked to get ice cream
CCTV footage taken outside the home where the crash took place. The never-before-seen vision showed the children stopped in a circle and chatting animatedly on the sidewalk moments before disaster struck
But paramedics performed CPR and the 11-year-old was whisked away to hospital in a critical condition.
Charbel spent two-and-a-half months in a coma following the crash, and his family were told to expect the worst.
Now, he is known among family and friends as their ‘miracle’.
‘My cousins that passed away prayed for me to get better,’ Charbel told 7News. ‘This is how I survived.’
He explained how he and his cousins never saw the car coming as they made their way to buy the ice cream to celebrate his older sister’s birthday.
‘The car came out of nowhere and just hit us from the back and made me in a coma for two months,’ he said.
‘It made four of my best friends die.’
The Abdallah family (pictured) are seen before tragedy struck on February 1, killing three of their six children and their niece
Mrs Abdallah (pictured, centre) is seen as she arrived at the scene on the morning after the crash, after the children’s father Daniel said he was ‘numb’ from their deaths
Mrs Abdallah told media she ‘forgives’ Davidson (pictured), despite him being allegedly three times over the legal blood alcohol limit when his Mitsubishi Triton mounted the kerb, killing three of her children
Mabelle (left), who’s 13th birthday sparked the festivities which brought the children all together on February 1, witnessed the aftermath of the crash firsthand. She said she immediately went to check on Charbel (right) and begged God to keep him alive before going to check on her cousins
Antony Abdallah was more than just Charbel’s cousin. The pair were also the best of friends.
When he woke up, Charbel said he wished Antony had survived instead of him.
‘Best, best mates. I just love him. Like, I wish what happened to him happened to me and what happened to me happened to him,’ he said.
Mabelle, whose 13th birthday sparked the festivities which brought the children together on February 1, wasn’t seriously injured in the crash but witnessed to horrendous scene.
She said she immediately went to check on Charbel and begged God to keep him alive before going to see if her cousins were OK.
She watched the bike her younger brother had been on moments earlier crushed under the weight of the car.
‘The passenger came up to me and kept saying sorry,’ she said of the aftermath.
‘He kept hitting himself in the face. I went to all the bodies to see if they were breathing. They weren’t breathing. [But] Veronique was the hardest one to go to because she was over the fence.’
As Angelina Abdallah (left), 12, lay lifeless just moments after a horror car crash, Margret Primc sat with her and stroked her head before planting a kiss on her forehead
Antony Abdallah (pictured, left), 13, who was killed in the horror crash alongside his 11-year-old cousin Veronique Sakr (right)
In the weeks to follow the crash, Veronique’s father, Bob, obtained CCTV footage taken outside the home where the crash took place.
The never-before-seen vision showed the children stopped in a circle and chatting on the sidewalk.
After a few moments, the group stopped talking and once again began moving off camera, which was when the car, allegedly driven by Davidson, ploughed into them from behind.
‘Knowing they were unaware, they didn’t suffer, the car came from behind them, is the only comfort I get,’ Bob told the program.
‘She was called back home to God. I know she’s up there with her grandparents that she never got to meet on Earth. And knowing her sense of humour… the same as my mother… I feel sorry for everyone else up there.’
The parents of all the children who were hit were on the scene within minutes, but it was too late.
A documentary detailing the heartbreak felt by the families involved aired on Channel Seven on Tuesday (pictured, the Abdallah family before tragedy struck)
Samuel William Davidson (pictured being taken away in handcuffs and shirtless) was charged with 33 offences including manslaughter
Leila Abdallah (pictured) is seen grieving the loss of three of her children after they were allegedly ploughed into by a drunk driver in Oatlands in Sydney’s western suburbs
Danny Abdallah, the father-of-three of the children who died, recalled the exact moment he realised something had gone terribly wrong.
‘It was like a warzone,’ he said.
‘Some guy ran up to me and he kept saying ”we’ve got to tell their parents”… and I said, ”mate, these are my kids”.’
‘I saw them. I went up to each one and I knew they were gone.’
Mr Abdallah tried in vain to resuscitate Antony, his eldest son, with mouth-to-mouth.
He found Angelina, who he realised was already gone. Then he saw Sienna, his baby girl.
‘Sienna wasn’t good at all,’ he said. ‘Veronique wasn’t good.’
As more police and emergency services poured in, Mr Abdallah was pushed to the side. He watched as each of his children, and finally his niece, were covered with a cloth.
Mr Abdallah prayed with his son Antony (pictured) just hours before the horror crash in February
The parents of the three children who died, Antony (far right), Angelina, (second right), and Sienna (centre left) used their faith in God to help them heal
Police allege Davidson had been drinking with friends at home before he got behind the wheel of his ute. He drove to a Caltex service station about 1.8km away from his Oatlands home to get cash. While on his way home, he allegedly ran a red light before crashing into a group of seven children
HOW THE TRAGEDY UNFOLDED
* Seven children were riding their bikes along the footpath of Beddington Road, Oatlands, just before 8pm on Saturday, February 1
* The children were on the way to buy ice cream when a Mitsubishi 4WD allegedly ploughed into them
*Residents raced to children’s aid and frantically tried to save them while waiting for emergency services
*Four children – including a boy, two of his sisters and their cousin – died at the scene
* Another boy, ten, was rushed to hospital with critical head injuries and remained in a coma for two-and-a-half months
* Two girls were taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries
*Male 4WD driver, a 29-year-old from Oatlands, underwent roadside breath test and returned positive result
*The alleged driver Samuel Davidson was arrested and taken to Castle Hill Police with his 24-year-old male passenger
*Davidson was charged with four counts of manslaughter
Once he realised there was nothing more he could do at the scene of the crash, Mr Abdallah headed directly to the hospital, where his middle daughter Liana was recovering.
‘She was there asking ”where’s my brothers and sisters”,’ he said.
Initially, he decided it would be best to lie to her, and assured her that her siblings were simply resting in another room.
But on the advice of a nurse who said she would never trust him again if he was dishonest, Mr Abdallah returned to her room to tell her the truth of the matter.
‘I said your brother and sisters have gone to be with God,’ he said. Liana was concerned about the prospect of having to be the big sister and devastated by the loss.
‘That was probably the hardest thing in my life. When you’re a dad, you’ve got to step up. Even when you’ve lost half your family. Because you don’t want to lose all your family,’ he said.
Liana’s mother, Leila, praised her daughter for the way she handled the tragedy.
‘She’s becoming resilient,’ Mrs Abdallah said. ‘She has seen the toughest. She’s like ”what is there to be scared of anymore”.’
Also at the scene when the family arrived was Davidson, the man accused of killing the children.
The 29-year-old builder faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of more than 30 offences, including four counts of manslaughter and high-range drink driving.
Davidson allegedly blew 0.150, three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit, after the Mistubishi Triton mounted the kerb and slammed into the children.
Witnesses told The Daily Telegraph Davidson, who was also charged with running a red light, had allegedly been travelling on the wrong side of the road moments before the crash.
His passenger gave CPR to the victims while Davidson stayed at the scene until police arrived.
CCTV footage captured the vehicle travelling at speed down the street minutes earlier.
Police allege the driver had been drinking at home with friends before he got behind the wheel to withdraw cash at a service station.
Distressed witnesses were seen being comforted at the tragic scene by emergency workers (pictured)
CCTV footage captured a 4WD speeding down Bettington road before the fatal incident
He was driving back home from a Caltex on Green Street when he allegedly ran the red light before ploughing into the group of children at about 8pm.
One female driver said she witnessed the car careening towards the direction of pedestrians and honked her horn to alert the driver, to no avail.
Davidson was arrested at the scene and remains in custody. He was seen being taken away in handcuffs and shirtless. Before the crash he was not known to police.
Davidson has been charged with 33 offences in total including four counts of manslaughter, four counts of dangerous driving occasioning death while driving under the influence, four counts of dangerous driving occasioning death while driving in a dangerous manner, two counts of causing bodily harm by misconduct while in charge of a motor vehicle and negligent driving.
The matter is expected to return to court later this month.
Mr Abdallah, his children and his extended family all remain grounded in their Maronite Christian faith.
While the couple have lost so much, they said they will ‘always love God’.
Mrs Abdallah said she is forever questioning how her children were taken so soon.
Their 11-year-old cousin Veronique Sakr (right, with her mother Bridget and brother Michael) was also killed
Micheal Sakr, 9, holds his mother Bridget’s hand for support as they visit the scene of the tragedy where Veronique, 11, was killed night along with her three cousins
‘I still love Him,’ she said of her relationship with God. ‘But I always ask questions. I ask, why God, why did you take our kids, what more do you want from us?’
Her husband agreed.
‘I’m human. I get frustrated. I get angry, angry with him. I cry when I pray sometimes. I ask him ”why would you to it to me? Why me?”,’ he revealed.
But their faith in God has never once wavered. They understand that their children have moved on, and believe they have encountered their children’s souls since their deaths.
God has always been central to their relationship and has forever guided them in their lives.
At 19, Mrs Abdallah met her future husband when he travelled from Sydney to Lebanon to spend time with family.
The pair laid eyes on one another at a party, and the next day, he arrived on her doorstep.
A small white cross statue sits against a fence in the days after at the scene of the crash
A photo of the victims hangs from a fence at the scene where seven children were hit by a four-wheel drive (4WD) in the suburb of Oatlands in Sydney
He spoke little Arabic, and she spoke even less English, but they were instantly drawn to each other.
‘His first question he asked me was ”do you pray?” and that was enough for me to fall in love with him,’ Mrs Abdallah recalled.
Growing up, she had always wanted one of two things: to become a nun, or to get married and start a family.
‘Either way, I wanted to honour God,’ she said.
Mr Abdallah added: ‘We always knew God was the centre of our relationship. We always put him first. We grew together.’
His six children – three boys and three girls – grew to have a similar relationship with God.
Seven children were riding their bikes when they were allegedly hit by a blue 4WD driven by an alleged drunk driver three times over the legal limit (pictured)
Leila Abdallah (pictured) the mother of three children killed by an alleged drunk driver, bravely returned to the scene of the crash to pray the rosary on February 3
Mrs Abdallah (pictured) frequently returned to the crash scene with her husband in the weeks after the crash
The couple recalled how ‘cheeky’ Sienna was. They referred to her as their ‘diva’, even at just eight years old.
Angelina was more like a mini mother around the house. She was ‘the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on this Earth… beautiful, selfless, courageous,’ Mrs Abdallah said.
‘They were kids. They were my world. We did everything we could as parents, and their love tanks were full.’
But while the family found it in their hearts to forgive the kids’ alleged killer, they have not stopped wishing for justice.
Mr Abdallah, who was also once charged for driving under the influence while in his 20s, acknowledged that the accused killer likely did not want anybody to get hurt.
‘We all make mistakes. I’m not here to tell you how perfect I am because I’m far from it,’ he said.
‘You learn from your mistakes. I don’t think the guy wanted to do what he did, but he did it and there are consequences.’
The family are calling for laws to be changed relating to passengers.
As it currently stands, the passenger in the car has not been formally charged and will likely not be.
‘There should be fines if you’re in the car with a drunk driver,’ Mr Abdallah said.
Later in the segment, Mrs Abdallah described forgiveness as ‘a gift from God’.
She famously forgave the alleged killer just days after losing her children, and the family urged the public to avoid threatening any form of retaliation.
‘Forgiveness is a gift from God,’ she said on Tuesday night. ‘You forgive not because someone deserves it, but because you deserve to be happy and at peace.
‘But at the same time, we want justice.’
All four children now share a grave. They were buried in two heartfelt ceremonies earlier this year, surrounded by loved ones and watched by the public.
United in grief: Family of Oatlands crash victims are comforted by hundreds of mourners at the scene where four children lost their lives
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Sydney’s north-west for an emotional vigil honouring the lives of the four young children who were tragically mowed down by an alleged drunk driver on Saturday, February 1.
Heartbroken friends and relatives crowded around a sea of flowers, candles and teddy bears on Bettington Road, in Oatlands – where siblings Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna Abdallah, nine, and their 11-year-old cousin Veronique Sakr, were struck and killed.
Leila Abdallah, the mother of the three siblings, appeared overcome with emotion as she knelt down and prayed at the scene of the horror incident just two days later.
Mourners were seen comforting each other while laying down rosary beads, messages of condolences and framed photographs of the four kids at makeshift memorial along the footpath.
The emotional service was led by a priest who guided the crowd through a recital of the Lord’s Prayer and the stations of the cross.
The victims’ families are believed to be members of the local Maronite Christian community in Oatlands, where they are well known.
Heartbreaking: Leila Abdallah, the mother of the three siblings, appeared overcome with emotion as she knelt down and prayed at the scene of the horror incident
One unidentified relative was seen kissing a framed photo of one of the victims left at the makeshift memorial
Mourners were seen laying rosary beads, flowers, and picture frames at a vigil two days after the crash
Members of the Abdallah family comforted each other as they paid tribute to the children
Two relatives comfort each other as they mourn the loss of the four young children taken too soon
Large crowds gathered at the crash site after the Abdallah family invited those affected by the tragedy to attend the vigil