Parents launch ‘i4give Day’ ahead of anniversary of Oatlands crash that killed four children

The parents of four children killed by a drunk driver in Sydney’s west want the anniversary of their deaths to be a day of forgiveness and celebration.

Siblings Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna Abdallah, 9, and their cousin Veronique Sakr, 11, were killed on February 1 last year when they were struck by an out-of-control ute that mounted a footpath where they were walking in Oatlands.

The children had been walking to the shop to buy ice-cream at the time of the crash.

The Abdallah and Sakr families have forgiven the driver, Samuel Davidson, as an important step in their grieving process.

At a ceremony in Sydney, the families on Sunday launched ‘i4give Day’, to be held each anniversary in memory of the children and to encourage people across the state to reflect on events and relationships in their own lives.

Along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife, Jenny, and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, family members released four white doves and some butterflies in memory of the children.

Angelina, 12, Sienna, 9, Antony, 13, and Veronique, 11.(Supplied)

Danny Abdallah said the grieving families had found peace by forgiving, but that it hadn’t been easy.

“Friends, I am in pain, my days are empty, my heart is aching,” he said.

“Tears of hopelessness visit me each day. I am dying on the inside and it’s hard to take much more.”

Mr Abdallah said he faced a choice to take a “path of destruction or a path of construction”.

“I forgive myself and I forgive the offender for the greater good of my family,” he said.

“This has allowed us to live in a state of peace and grace, and I promise you if my children were here today they’d say, ‘Forgive him’.”

A woman wearing a white dress stands at a lecturn.
Leila Abdallah said the families “chose forgiveness and love over hatred”.(ABC News)

Leila Abdallah said she felt mixed emotions about the day and was both heartbroken by her loss but grateful the NSW Government was supporting the family’s initiative.

“We chose to turn our tragedy into a greater goodness. We chose to carry our cross with dignity. We chose forgiveness and love over hatred.

The Abdallah family are devout Maronite Catholics and credit God with helping them through their grief.

“For non-believers, forgiveness frees up your emotions. It brings healing to a hurting soul and allows you to have peace in your heart,” Ms Abdallah said.

She said the family’s wishes were for the entire community to “unite under the umbrella of this day”.

“It starts in your heart, spreads to the family and reaches to the community.”

A woman in a grey cardigan kneels in front of memorial flowers.
Ms Abdallah (right), while visiting the crash site one year ago.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Mr Morrison described the Abdallah family’s ability to forgive in the days after the accident as “breathtaking”.

Mr Morrison referred to the Lord’s Prayer and its message of forgiveness.

“We know [the words] by heart. We think we knew what they meant but when you have to face it, when you have to confront pain and suffering in the extreme, then you realise how truly difficult that is,” he said.

“To see someone not only say these words but live them, even in the midst of continued pain and grief, leaves me in awe.”

Ms Berejiklian said the families had given the country “a wonderful gift”.

“The gift of i4give Day will be something that is part of us forever.” 

A man flanked by police officers leaves hospital
Samuel Davidson has pleaded guilty to seven charges, including four of manslaughter.(ABC News)

Ms Berejiklian went on to quote Martin Luther King: “[Forgiveness] is not an occasional act, but it’s a constant attitude, something we live with every day,” she said.

Davidson has pleaded guilty to four charges of manslaughter and three other offences, including dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

He is accused of having a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, while court documents revealed he also had cocaine and MDMA in his system.

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Increased penalties for combined drug, alcohol driving after Oatlands fatal crash


“No one deserves to die this way, no one deserves to die on the road, especially in the way we saw our kids, to drugs, alcohol and speeding. Not this way,” Ms Abdallah said.

“Our aim here today is for other people not to go through the same heartache that we’ve been through. It’s something we have to wake up every day to, it’s a constant pain that will never go away.”

There is currently no combined offence for driving under the influence of both drugs and alcohol, with a maximum fine of $3,300 (alcohol) and $2,200 (drugs), with the new law set to introduce an $11,000 fine and two years in jail.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the road safety reform was above party politics. Credit:Rhett Wyman

Mr Constance said he was troubled by the road toll tracking in a similar way to last year, despite far fewer people driving during the pandemic, with 275 lives lost so far in 2020.

“I know we can change, I know our community can change in response to enforcement,” he said.

“It’s not about revenue, you’ve heard the stories today. We’re here to save lives, it’s that simple.”

Sienna, Angelina and Antony Abdallah.

Sienna, Angelina and Antony Abdallah.

The legislation will be introduced to parliament in February next year.

He also confirmed NSW will become the last state in the country to remove mobile speed camera signage in coming months, sparking another fight between Coalition members.

The 45 mobile speed cameras that operate around the state will also have their monthly hours of operation increased from 7000 to 21,000.

While Mr Constance was joined by Deputy Nationals Leader Paul Toole for the announcement, his party colleague Wes Fang was scathing of the decision, saying it unfairly targeted regional drivers.

Veronique Sakr's funeral at Santa Sabina College Chapel in February.

Veronique Sakr’s funeral at Santa Sabina College Chapel in February. Credit:Janie Barrett

He said it had not recently been presented to the joint party room.

“Today’s decision by Andrew Constance to remove the speed camera warning signs for the mobile cameras is an absolute disgrace and unfairly targets regional and rural motorists,” Mr Fang said in a statement that he tweeted on Thursday morning.

Mr Constance earlier said the road safety reforms were above partisan politics.

Simmering tensions remain between the Liberals and the Nationals remain over the government’s divisive koala planning policy, which threatened to split the Coalition in September.

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Women dies in stabbing at unit in Oatlands in Sydney’s north-west, man arrested

A woman has died after suffering multiple stab injuries at a home in Sydney’s north-west.

Paramedics performed CPR on the woman, aged in her 30s, at the Oatlands unit on Ingleby Street.

She was taken to Westmead Hospital but has since died.

A 25-year-old man who was known to the woman was arrested at the scene and has been taken to Granville Police Station for questioning.

NSW Police Chief Inspector Adam Philipps described the woman’s injuries as “significant”.

He said another man who was also in the unit at the time “fled the scene” before contacting triple zero and alerting police to the stabbing and providing the address.

Chief Inspector Adam Phillips said the incident was being investigated.(ABC News)

“He’s not an offender and we have located him and [he] is currently helping us back at Granville Police Station with a statement,” he said.

He said the alleged offender had suffered a number of minor injuries to his hand and the man who ran from the scene also had a superficial injury.

Police believe the woman knew both men but officers are “still trying to establish the actual relationship of the parties involved”.

It is unclear why the three were at the unit at the time of the stabbing.

“The injuries the woman sustained were significant and the police escort was used to help rush the woman to hospital,” he said.

Police tape in front of a red brick unit block.
Police have established a crime scene at the Oatlands unit.(ABC News)

He said the man police arrested was waiting on the verandah for officers to arrive and he “wasn’t aggressive” towards them when they turned up.

“We are still in the infancy of the investigation,” he said.

“We are currently doing a canvassing of the units and we’re just hoping now to try and put some sort of picture around not only today’s incident, but the relationship of the female and the two parties involved today.”

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