Girl struck and killed by Abbotsford bus a Syrian refugee
Nine-year-old Hala Albarhoum arrived in Canada a year ago as a government sponsored refugee
Hala Albarhoum, the nine-year-old girl who died after being struck by a bus near Ten-Broeck Elementary in Abbotsford, was a government sponsored Syrian refugee who escaped the war-torn country a little more than a year ago.
"This came as a very sudden shock to the whole community," said Tahir Khalid, who is a board member at the Abbotsford Islamic Centre where the girl and her family went.
"It's quite devastating for the whole community. It happened all very, very suddenly."
The collision happened after 8 a.m. PT Friday at South Fraser Way and Hill-Tout Street — about 400 metres from Ten-Broeck Elementary, where Hala went to school.
Abbotsford Police said the girl was walking at a crosswalk when she was hit by a transit bus. The crossing guard that's usually assigned to the intersection was not present at the time of the collision, according to the school district.
Hala died shortly after being taken to hospital.
On Saturday, a funeral was held for the young girl at the mosque.
"The father is completely broken down," said Tahir. "I am a father I can understand. You can't stand to look at him he is just crying most of the time."
"It is difficult for anyone to console him, I mean what do you say? It is hard to find words to say to somebody with a tragedy like that, it is difficult. We believe time will heal so we hope and pray for them."
The Albarhoum family was one of 30 government sponsored refugee families to escape war torn Syria and arrive in Abbotsford last year.
'Thought they were safe'
Those close to them can't overstate the irony of leaving Syria to safely arrive in Canada, only to face this fatal tragedy.
"It's a family that just lost their nine-year-old to a bus accident when they thought they were safe from all the bombs and the war in Syria when they finally found refuge and safety in Canada," said Adnan Bhat, a friend of the family.
"We can never truly understand what they are going through."
Bhat has helped set up a fundraising campaign to raise money for the family.
Both police and B.C. Transit are investigating the circumstances of the accident and death.
The Abbotsford School District says it is looking into why there was no cross guard present at the time of the collision.
With files from Susana da Silva.