Fund for Kurdish family killed in crash raises €40,000 in matter of hours

Brother of Kurdish father killed in Galway crash found out about incident on Facebook

An appeal for funds to repatriate the bodies of the Kurdish family killed in a crash on the M6 last Thursday raised more than its initial €40,000 target in a matter of hours after it was set up on Monday evening.

Karzan Sabah, his wife, Shahen Qasm, and their eight-month-old daughter Lina died in a three-vehicle road crash on the motorway near Ballinasloe in Co Galway. The family were from Kurdistan and had been living in Ireland since 2017.*

A GoFundMe page has been established by family friend John Carey with a target of €40,000. By around 10.30pm on Monday it had slightly exceeded that amount with more than 1,500 people having donated.

"You would not have met two nicer people, who loved Ireland and touched the lives of those they met. Many of us didn't get to meet Lina, and she never got to meet her family in Iraq, " he posted on the page.


“We now desperately want to repatriate them back to their families in Erbil in the Kurdish region of Iraq so that they can be close to their loved ones. It would have meant a great deal to Karzan and Shahen.”

Hiwa Wahab, co-founder of Kurdish Art Nergez Group Ireland and Kurdish Radio Ireland, said earlier that Karzan Sabah's brother learned about the crash on a Kurdish Facebook page, before he realised it was his brother.

"He was concerned about the news. I believe someone called him and told him that Karzan had been missing for nearly 20 hours. His phone was switched off, so they asked us to do some research about this," Mr Wahab said.

"We took a few details from them, and we started to make phone calls to the gardaí and to the hospital and our branch in Galway. Three hours later, unfortunately, we had received the bad news. That's when we shared it with the family," he told RTÉ.

Thursday night’s crash occurred at about 7.40pm on the M6 motorway at Poolboy, Ballinasloe, after driver Jonasz Lach entered the motorway on the wrong side and crashed head-on into their car. All four were pronounced dead at the scene.

A third car was also involved in the crash. The driver of this car was travelling alone and was treated in hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

The investigation into the circumstances that led to the collision is ongoing and gardaí have asked witnesses to come forward.

Mr Ahmed (36) was originally from Erbil in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. He studied agriculture at university and moved to Plymouth, England, in 2011 to study for a masters before moving on in 2017 to complete his PhD in agriculture at NUI Galway.

He had recently been offered a job as a lecturer in Carlow.

Mr Wahab said on the day of the crash Karzan was in Carlow to view a property before moving there to start a new life.

*This article was amended on August 24th, 2021