Relatives of family killed in M6 crash thank Irish people for help and generosity

Sister says: ‘we did not know the Irish people were so kind. It is very beautiful to see this’

Karzan Sabah Ahmed and his baby daughter Lina, who died in a crash in Co Galway last week

Karzan Sabah Ahmed and his baby daughter Lina, who died in a crash in Co Galway last week

 

The family of Karzan Sabah Ahmed, who died with his wife and baby in a collision on the M6 in Galway last week, have sent their thanks to the people of Ireland for contributing to a fund aimed at repatriating the family.

“I just want to thank all of them. We did not know the Irish people were so kind. It is very beautiful to see this,” Srwa Sabah Ahmed (21), the younger sister of Mr Ahmed, told The Irish Times.

A GoFundMe page was established on Monday night by family friend John Carey with a target of €40,000. As of Wednesday morning, it had raised more than €92,000.

Mr Ahmed (36) and his wife, Shahen Qasm (31), were planning a trip to Erbil in October. It would have been their first visit in three years, and they were looking forward to introducing eight-month-old Lina, who was born in Ireland, to their families.

Karzan Sabah Ahmed and his sister Srwa pictured
Karzan Sabah Ahmed and his sister Srwa pictured

Ms Ahmed and her parents had only ever seen Lina on video calls. “We were so eager to hold her, to hug her, to kiss her,” she said. “Her first word was ‘dad’. We were crying when we saw her say it on video.”

Mr Ahmed and his eight siblings grew up in the neighbourhood of Bahirka on the outskirts of Erbil.

His father was a construction worker and he was introduced to Ms Qasm by their parents in 2013, marrying soon afterwards.

Ms Ahmed had a close relationship with her sister-in-law, an engineering graduate whom she describes as “beautiful inside and out”.

She said the couple shared an ability to bring out the best in people, a certain confidence that would make others feel that they too could achieve.

The couple had been trying to persuade Ms Ahmed to join them in Ireland to do a master’s degree. They had embraced their lives in Ireland, appreciating the peace they had found there, and hoped to settle permanently, Ms Ahmed said.

‘Brilliant and intelligent’ student

Friends and colleagues at Salahaddin University, Mr Ahmed’s alma mater, are devastated by the loss.

Dr Shatha Hussein Ahmed, who taught Mr Ahmed in the agriculture faculty, said he rose from modest circumstances to become one of her most “brilliant and intelligent” students.

“He was a symbol of generosity and dedication,” she said.

Baby Lina, daughter of Karzan Sabah Ahmed, who died in the Co Galway crash last week
Lina, daughter of Karzan Sabah Ahmed, who died in the Co Galway crash last week

After three years at the University of Plymouth, in the UK, where he obtained a master’s degree, Mr Ahmed came back to his alma mater to share his knowledge.

“He had brought many valuable scientific resources and some simple devices that he had designed himself for the department,” said his former lecturer.

Mr Ahmed went on to become a highly regarded lecturer at Salahaddin, where he taught for three years from 2014 to 2017, respected for his “personality, ethics and knowledge.”

Yaseen Mamosta (35), a senior lecturer at Salahaddin, became close friends with Mr Ahmed in Plymouth, where they shared a flat between 2011 and 2014.

Mr Mamosta has a clear memory of walking around the city feeling very lonely, when he received a call completely out of the blue from Mr Ahmed, telling him he was on his way.

“I was the happiest person on earth,” said Mr Mamosta. The pair “shopped, cooked and travelled” together, keeping each other’s spirits up.

Mr Ahmed would volunteer himself for blood glucose checks for his friend’s study. While Mr Mamosta would help Mr Ahmed collect clay samples in a field outside the city for insect specimens.

“Karzan was almost unique in terms of attitude and behaviour, a very easy-going man, very humble despite his wide knowledge. And he had a great sense of humour,” said Mr Mamosta.

Helping people

His friend believes that Mr Ahmed’s greatest talent was helping people with their studies, a view evidenced by the glowing messages from former students shared with The Irish Times, thanking him for “correcting draft after draft of different thesis sections and returning them with little delay”.

Ms Ahmed is holding onto her memories of the last time she saw her brother and Ms Qasm in 2018.

She had surprised them at the airport with a big welcome cake and had planned to do the same for their homecoming this October.

Her family has just moved to a new house in Bahirka. They’d almost finished decorating, and were preparing for the big reunion, overjoyed at the prospect of meeting baby Lina.

And suddenly the crash happened, said Ms Ahmed.

“Our hearts are shattered into pieces. We are always crying because they are so far away and we cannot see them,” she said.

“We still think they are coming back and that we will open the door and see them.”