The father of Jihad Darwiche, one of the two boys killed in the Banksia Road Public School crash, has expressed his forgiveness to the driver charged over his son’s death.
In extraordinary footage shared to Facebook this afternoon, Mr Darwiche speaks with friend Ahmad Hraichie while on route to the eight-year-old’s memorial at Sydney’s Lakemba mosque.
With the boy’s small, green coffin visible over his shoulder, Hraichie translates a heartfelt message to the camera, in which Mr Darwiche appeals for an end to the backlash against Maha Al-Shennag, the 52-year-old mother of four whose SUV ploughed into a classroom at the Greenacre school on Tuesday morning.
“No retaliation is coming from the family of the boy, they have forgiven. If anything, they want to sit with this lady and talk with her and tell her, we forgive you,” Hraichie said.
“But as you know, right now, it is a hard time with funeral and all the people that are visiting. But, inshallah, once it’s over, she is welcome to come and sit with the family, to have a meal and to talk about how they can move forward with this problem, what’s happened.”
Hraichie added that the family would also urge others to extend the same sympathies and forgiveness to Ms Al-Shennag.
“People are coming and telling them what’s happening and that this lady’s being abused, they don’t want none of this to happen. They are telling everyone out there — forgive her, it’s an honest mistake, it could have happened to any of us,” he said.
“We don’t throw the world down on our brothers and sisters when an accident happens, we forgive.”
Al-Shennag has been charged with two counts of dangerous driving occasioning death, driving in a dangerous manner and negligent driving occasioning death over the crash, which injured a further 12 students.
The police investigation is ongoing, although as reported today, it is believed authorities are investigating a theory that the school mum was distracted by a stray water bottle.
It’s reported police will also explore whether the school mum may have been using her phone at the time of the crash, or if the incident resulted from a fault with her vehicle.
A lawyer for Al-Shennag said she was “deeply sorry for the loss and hurt suffered by the children, the school, the families and the community”, and added that “her thoughts and prayers are with all those affected”.
She has been bailed to appear at Bankstown Local Court on November 29.
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