Galway crash: €60,000 raised for repatriation of Kurdish family killed

Target of €40,000 is reached in hours following hundreds of online donations

An appeal for funds to repatriate the bodies of the Kurdish family killed in a crash on the M6 last Thursday raised more than €60,000 one day after it was set up.

Karzan Sabah; his wife, Shahen Qasm; and their eight-month-old daughter, Lina, died in a three-vehicle crash on the motorway near Ballinasloe in Co Galway last week.

The family was from Kurdistan and had been living in Ireland since 2017.

A GoFundMe page was established on Monday night 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. By Tuesday morning, more than 2,400 people had donated, and the amount raised had exceeded €60,000.

"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.

“Please give what little you can, and we can try and bring some sense of comfort to those people affected by this awful tragedy. The more we raise, the easier it will be for their families,” he posted.

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 the family’s car. All four died 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.

An investigation is ongoing, and gardaí have appealed for witnesses.

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.

One donor on the GoFundMe page said Mr Ahmed was due to start in their lab in Carlow soon and that he was “such a genuinely lovely person and was so enthusiastic to start with us”.

“He had so much to offer and I was excited to learn from him,” the person wrote.

Others offered messages of condolences to the family and friends.