Eid Badi Shahad, driving with his wife and four daughters, ran a red light early yesterday morning at Riverside Drive and Fishinger Road. Perhaps realizing his mistake, he stopped - too late - in the intersection. Now, five brothers are orphaned and sisterless. An Upper Arlington police officer responding to a report of an armed robbery at a nearby McDonald's, lights flashing and siren wailing, slammed his cruiser into the family's Toyota Corolla at 1:35 a.m.
Eid Badi Shahad, driving with his wife and four daughters, ran a red light early yesterday morning at Riverside Drive and Fishinger Road. Perhaps realizing his mistake, he stopped — too late — in the intersection. Now, five brothers are orphaned and sisterless.
An Upper Arlington police officer responding to a report of an armed robbery at a nearby McDonald’s, lights flashing and siren wailing, slammed his cruiser into the family’s Toyota Corolla at 1:35 a.m.
Shahad, 39; his wife, Entisar W. Hameed, 31; and four daughters — Shuaa Badi, 16, Amna Badi, 14, Ekbal Badi, 12, and 2-year-old Lina Badi — all were pronounced dead at the scene.
None had on a seat belt.
The family had come from Iraq via Syria as refugees three years ago and moved into a small apartment on the West Side. All 11 lived there, along with Shahad’s 77-year-old mother.
Yesterday, the old woman sat wrapped in a blanket on the floor of the small apartment, surrounded by other Muslim women. She cried out and looked at the door every time it opened, as if searching for her son.
The family was among the first Iraqi families to be settled here, said Angie Plummer, executive director of Community Refugee and Immigration Services. They had welcomed their youngest daughter, Lina, since arriving in town.
Today, Plummer’s thoughts are with the surviving boys, ages 5 through 17, and Shahad’s mother.
“I’m hopeful that with the support of the community at large, these children can heal from this tragedy,” she said.
By midafternoon yesterday, women had descended upon the family’s apartment to be with Shahad’s mother. The boys were whisked away to be with other family members. Other than the oldest boy, they hadn’t yet been told of their loss, which came three days after Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday.
“This is the blessed month,” said Zeinab Ali, who came with her mother to mourn with the family. “It is like dying at Christmas.”
Police who reviewed the cruiser’s dash-camera video yesterday say they don’t know why Shahad was stopped in the intersection, headed west on Fishinger Road. The family was on the way home from a friend’s house.
“He went through the intersection and, for whatever reason, he just stopped,” Perry Township Police Chief Robert Oppenheimer said. “Whether he saw the cruiser coming or he realized he ran the red light and was going to back up, we’ll probably never know.”
The light had just flicked yellow when Upper Arlington Officer Shawn Paynter entered the intersection bound for the Henderson Road McDonald’s and hit the side of the family’s car.
Paynter was taken to OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital with minor head injuries. He didn’t know what happened to the people in the car, Oppenheimer said, until a nurse told him.
This is the second time six people have been killed in a single crash this year in Ohio, the State Highway Patrol reported. Six teenagers were killed on March 9 in Warren in northeastern Ohio when their car hit a guardrail and landed on its roof in a swamp.
Word of yesterday’s tragedy swept through River Pointe Apartments, a mostly Somali community. Last night, dozens of women in hijabs walked arm-in-arm and children huddled to listen.
“Their father was a great man,” said next-door neighbor Abdurahman Hussein, 23, praising both parents and recalling how Shahad would help neighbors fix their cars. “All we can do now is pray for them.”
Next-door neighbor Asha Hussein said, “They came here for a better life.”
Heather O’Bannon, director of the Westside Academy, choked back sobs yesterday afternoon as she spoke of the three older girls. They attended her school a couple of years ago.
“They were so smart and so sweet,” she said. “It’s a very sad situation.”
“When we were with them, we were letting them know they had options in their life, opportunity they didn’t have in Iraq. … I even sold Girl Scout cookies with them. They were very bright, very happy girls.”
O’Bannon said Columbus’ Iraqi community will rally to support the five surviving brothers, the oldest of whom is a senior at Franklin Heights High School.
Because Westside Academy serves students only through fourth grade, the girls had transferred to the International Academy of Columbus, O’Bannon said. The girls left that school to be home-schooled by their parents, she said.
The girls, fluent in Arabic, made huge strides learning English while attending his school, said Dr. Mouhamed Tarazi, director of the International Academy.
“The girls were so nice, so polite, well-raised,” said Tarazi. They attended the International Academy for two years until this fall. “They were loved by everybody: their classmates, their teachers. We are really going to miss them.”
Today, after prayers at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center, the six will be buried in the Islamic Cemetery of Columbus. The littlest girl will share a casket with one of her big sisters.
A fund to has been set up to help the family. Donations can be made at the Georgesville Road branch of Huntington National Bank, 121 Georgesville Rd.
Dispatch Researchers Susan Stonick and Linda Deitch and Dispatch Reporters Dean Narciso and Kathy Lynn Gray contributed to this story.