The parents of three children who were allegedly killed at the hands of a drunk and drug-addled driver have paid a gut-wrenching tribute to the youngest of the victims on what would have been her ninth birthday.
Sienna Abdallah was mowed down alongside her siblings, 13-year-old Antony and 12-year-old Angelina, as well as their 11-year-old cousin Veronique Sakr, on February 1 while walking to their local supermarket in Oatlands, in Sydney’s north-west, to buy ice cream.
The children were celebrating their cousin’s birthday on the day of their deaths – and it was the first time they had been given permission to walk to the store without parental supervision.
Seven children were struck just before 8pm on Bettington Road, one of the main thoroughfares through Oatlands, allegedly by Samuel William Davidson – the drunk son of a former NSW detective – who police allegee had drugs in his system at the time.
On Sunday, Sienna’s parents Danny and Leila Abdallah, celebrated her first birthday since the devastating crash.
‘You are my baby girl and my princess,’ a tribute to the birthday girl read.
‘You filled our lives and our hearts with love and joy. Today we were celebrating your birthday, but we didn’t have the birthday girl among us.
Wishing Sienna a very special Happy 9th Birthday. We love you and miss you dearly. You are my baby girl and princess. You filled up our lives and our hearts with love and joy. Today, we were celebrating your birthday but we didn’t have the birthday girl among us 💔 Our hearts are broken and we believe that we’ll be reunited with you in Heaven. I am sure that Antony, Angelina and Veronique are beside you. Heaven is lucky.
‘We love and miss you dearly… Our hearts are broken and we believe that we’ll be reunited with you in heaven.’
The post was accompanied by a video slideshow including never-before-seen videos and photos of the aspiring gymnast.
As Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’ played in the background, the tribute began with a video taken at Sienna’s last birthday, as she excitedly blew out the candle of a cake.
The video then switches to a clip taken on a boat, as her doting dad asks for a kiss.
Sienna obliges, before turning to the camera and cheekily wiping her mouth and flashing a grin.
The couple have previously recalled how ‘cheeky’ Sienna was. They referred to her as their ‘diva’, even at just eight years old.
Further footage shows Sienna in her gymnastics outfit, cheering about attending a competition and fearlessly tumbling on the concrete – as well as plenty of videos singing her favourite songs.
The couple finished the message by describing heaven as ‘lucky’ to have Sienna.
‘I am sure that Antony, Angelina and Veronique are beside you.’
Just six weeks ago, Mr and Mrs Abdallah celebrated their eldest son Antony’s 14th birthday.
They made a similar video for his special day, describing the teenager as ‘a saint’.
The parents of all the children who were hit were on the scene within minutes, but it was too late.
Mr recalled the exact moment he realised something had gone terribly wrong.
‘It was like a warzone,’ he said.
‘Some guy ran up to me and he kept saying ”we’ve got to tell their parents”… and I said, ”mate, these are my kids”.’
‘I saw them. I went up to each one and I knew they were gone.’
Mr Abdallah tried in vain to resuscitate Antony, his eldest son, with mouth-to-mouth.
He found Angelina, who he realised was already gone. Then he saw Sienna, his baby girl.
‘Sienna wasn’t good at all,’ he said. ‘Veronique wasn’t good.’
As more police and emergency services poured in, Mr Abdallah was pushed to the side. He watched as each of his children, and finally his niece, were covered with a cloth.
Once he realised there was nothing more he could do at the scene of the crash, Mr Abdallah headed directly to the hospital, where his middle daughter Liana was recovering.
‘She was there asking ”where’s my brothers and sisters”,’ he said.
Initially, he decided it would be best to lie to her, and assured her that her siblings were simply resting in another room.
But on the advice of a nurse who said she would never trust him again if he was dishonest, Mr Abdallah returned to her room to tell her the truth of the matter.
‘I said your brother and sisters have gone to be with God,’ he said. Liana was concerned about the prospect of having to be the big sister and devastated by the loss.
‘That was probably the hardest thing in my life. When you’re a dad, you’ve got to step up. Even when you’ve lost half your family. Because you don’t want to lose all your family,’ he said.
Liana’s mother, Leila, praised her daughter for the way she handled the tragedy.
‘She’s becoming resilient,’ Mrs Abdallah said. ‘She has seen the toughest. She’s like ”what is there to be scared of anymore”.’
Also at the scene when the family arrived was Davidson, the man accused of killing the children.
The 29-year-old builder faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of more than 30 offences, including four counts of manslaughter and high-range drink driving.
Davidson allegedly blew 0.150, three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit, after the Mistubishi Triton mounted the kerb and slammed into the children.
Witnesses told The Daily Telegraph Davidson, who was also charged with running a red light, had allegedly been travelling on the wrong side of the road moments before the crash.
His passenger gave CPR to the victims while Davidson stayed at the scene until police arrived.
CCTV footage captured the vehicle travelling at speed down the street minutes earlier.
Police allege the driver had been drinking at home with friends before he got behind the wheel to withdraw cash at a service station.
He was driving back home from a Caltex on Green Street when he allegedly ran the red light before ploughing into the group of children at about 8pm.
One female driver said she witnessed the car careening towards the direction of pedestrians and honked her horn to alert the driver, to no avail.
Davidson was arrested at the scene and remains in custody. He was seen being taken away in handcuffs and shirtless. Before the crash he was not known to police.
Davidson has been charged with 33 offences in total including four counts of manslaughter, four counts of dangerous driving occasioning death while driving under the influence, four counts of dangerous driving occasioning death while driving in a dangerous manner, two counts of causing bodily harm by misconduct while in charge of a motor vehicle and negligent driving.
The matter is expected to return to court later this month.
Charbel Kassas was trailing behind his cousins on a push bike when they were swiped from behind.
He was thrown from the bike, which was crushed in the crash, and was so badly injured his heart stopped at the scene.
But paramedics performed CPR and the 11-year-old was whisked away to hospital in a critical condition.
Charbel spent two-and-a-half months in a coma following the crash, and his family were told to expect the worst.
Now, he is known among family and friends as their ‘miracle’.
‘My cousins that passed away prayed for me to get better,’ Charbel told 7News in an interview which aired last month. ‘This is how I survived.’
He explained how he and his cousins never saw the car coming as they made their way to buy the ice cream to celebrate his older sister’s birthday.
‘The car came out of nowhere and just hit us from the back and made me in a coma for two months,’ he said.
‘It made four of my best friends die.’
Antony Abdallah was more than just Charbel’s cousin. The pair were also the best of friends.
When he woke up, Charbel said he wished Antony had survived instead of him.
‘Best, best mates. I just love him. Like, I wish what happened to him happened to me and what happened to me happened to him,’ he said.
Mabelle, whose 13th birthday sparked the festivities which brought the children together on February 1, wasn’t seriously injured in the crash but witnessed to horrendous scene.
She said she immediately went to check on Charbel and begged God to keep him alive before going to see if her cousins were OK.
She watched the bike her younger brother had been on moments earlier crushed under the weight of the car.
‘The passenger came up to me and kept saying sorry,’ she said of the aftermath.
‘He kept hitting himself in the face. I went to all the bodies to see if they were breathing. They weren’t breathing. [But] Veronique was the hardest one to go to because she was over the fence.’
In the weeks to follow the crash, Veronique’s father, Bob, obtained CCTV footage taken outside the home where the crash took place.
The vision showed the children stopped in a circle and chatting on the sidewalk.
After a few moments, the group stopped talking and once again began moving off camera, which was when the car, allegedly driven by Davidson, ploughed into them from behind.
‘Knowing they were unaware, they didn’t suffer, the car came from behind them, is the only comfort I get,’ Bob told the program.
‘She was called back home to God. I know she’s up there with her grandparents that she never got to meet on Earth. And knowing her sense of humour… the same as my mother… I feel sorry for everyone else up there.’
Mr Abdallah, his children and his extended family all remain grounded in their Maronite Christian faith.
While the couple have lost so much, they said they will ‘always love God’.
Mrs Abdallah said she is forever questioning how her children were taken so soon.
‘I still love Him,’ she said of her relationship with God. ‘But I always ask questions. I ask, why God, why did you take our kids, what more do you want from us?’
Her husband agreed.
‘I’m human. I get frustrated. I get angry, angry with him. I cry when I pray sometimes. I ask him ”why would you to it to me? Why me?”,’ he revealed.
But their faith in God has never once wavered. They understand that their children have moved on, and believe they have encountered their children’s souls since their deaths.
God has always been central to their relationship and has forever guided them in their lives.
At 19, Mrs Abdallah met her future husband when he travelled from Sydney to Lebanon to spend time with family.
The pair laid eyes on one another at a party, and the next day, he arrived on her doorstep.
He spoke little Arabic, and she spoke even less English, but they were instantly drawn to each other.
‘His first question he asked me was ”do you pray?” and that was enough for me to fall in love with him,’ Mrs Abdallah recalled.
Growing up, she had always wanted one of two things: to become a nun, or to get married and start a family.
‘Either way, I wanted to honour God,’ she said.
Mr Abdallah added: ‘We always knew God was the centre of our relationship. We always put him first. We grew together.’
His six children – three boys and three girls – grew to have a similar relationship with God.
Angelina was more like a mini mother around the house. She was ‘the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on this Earth… beautiful, selfless, courageous,’ Mrs Abdallah said.
‘They were kids. They were my world. We did everything we could as parents, and their love tanks were full.’
But while the family found it in their hearts to forgive the kids’ alleged killer, they have not stopped wishing for justice.
Mr Abdallah, who was also once charged for driving under the influence while in his 20s, acknowledged that the accused killer likely did not want anybody to get hurt.
‘We all make mistakes. I’m not here to tell you how perfect I am because I’m far from it,’ he said.
‘You learn from your mistakes. I don’t think the guy wanted to do what he did, but he did it and there are consequences.’
The family are calling for laws to be changed relating to passengers.
As it currently stands, the passenger in the car has not been formally charged and will likely not be.
‘There should be fines if you’re in the car with a drunk driver,’ Mr Abdallah said.
Later in the segment, Mrs Abdallah described forgiveness as ‘a gift from God’.
She famously forgave the alleged killer just days after losing her children, and the family urged the public to avoid threatening any form of retaliation.
‘Forgiveness is a gift from God,’ she said on Tuesday night. ‘You forgive not because someone deserves it, but because you deserve to be happy and at peace.
‘But at the same time, we want justice.’
All four children now share a grave. They were buried in two heartfelt ceremonies earlier this year, surrounded by loved ones and watched by the public.