A funeral for nine-year-old Syrian refugee Hala Albarhoum, who was struck and killed Friday morning by a BC Transit bus in Abbotsford, took place Saturday.
A volunteer who has helped the family says the family thought their children were finally safe when they escaped the civil war in their homeland.
Hala was wrapped in a shroud while in the arms of her grief-stricken father, as he placed her into her grave during the burial in Chilliwack, attended by many community members.
“The amount of turmoil they’ve gone through … we can’t even fathom what it must be like,” said Adnan Bhat, who volunteers with the Abbotsford Islamic Centre.
Bhat started a GoFundME campaign after the death to help out the family, Over $20,000 had been raised by Sunday afternoon.
“They’re trying to gather the strength for the other kids. They are praying a lot for Hala and for the other kids, just for strength to deal with the loss,” said Bhat, who indicated the family has four surviving children.
Bhat only met Hala once, describing her as “a very sweet child” who was “slightly reserved and shy.”
The collision took place on a crosswalk only 400 metres from Ten-Broek Elementary, where Hala went to school , the crossing guard usually assigned was not present at the time of the collision.
The Abbotsford school district is investigating as to why no one was present.
Hala died shortly after being taken to hospital.
B.C. Transit president Manuel Achadinha said in a statement on Friday that he is “extremely saddened” to hear of the girl’s death and the agency’s thoughts are with her family, the driver and others who witnessed the event.
Sgt. Judy Bird of the Abbotsford police said it’s too early to say how fast the bus was travelling.
“At that time of morning, it was still quite dark, as well as our weather conditions were very rainy, so there was some visibility issues. But at this time we are at the very preliminary stages of investigation.” said Bird.
The family arrived in Abbotsford last year from war torn Syria, as a part of a government sponsored program.
The death is still under investigation by police and B.C. Transit.
With files from the Canadian Press and CBC