MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wiping back tears and fighting off emotions, Zaidan Wazwaz has a tough time talking about a friend’s sudden loss.
“Lovely, sweet, bubbly, you name it,” Wazwaz said, as he recalls the little girl he and his wife would care for.
Three-year-old Narjes Al-Ahmad was killed in a one-vehicle accident in Coon Rapids on Wednesday afternoon when the car her mother was driving went off the road and rolled into the ditch.
Wazwaz and his family are close friends of the child’s mother and would often have them over to their Coon Rapids home.
“Losing a child is not easy, especially since this child was adorable, active, fun … she is adorable,” he said.
The 3-year-old girl was in the back seat of her mother’s car, when it left an exit ramp at Highway 10 and Foley Boulevard in Coon Rapids around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Twenty-nine-year-old Zaman Eltaji and her cousin, Alla Abuhamad, 20, were heading out to look for apartments when the accident happened.
According to State Patrol investigators, Al-Ahmad was ejected from her child safety seat and died at the scene. Her mother and the other passenger were buckled in and survived the crash with minor injuries.
“That particular seat was a five-point harness seat, and by all indications it was not secured or used properly,” said Lt. Eric Roeske, of the State Patrol.
Wazwaz said he is certain the child’s mother would always buckle her kids in. They would often drive the woman and her kids around on errands.
Eltaji came to Minnesota from Iraq where her husband is still waiting for a travel visa. She only received her driver’s license last month.
It’s unclear if the restraint somehow came undone, the straps were too loose, or a buckle wasn’t securely snapped. In any case, it’s a sad reminder to all parents.
Much like the video on Wazwaz’s cell phone of a little girl enjoying playtime at the mall of America, the reminder of a precious and fragile life that is suddenly gone.
“All in the hands of god,” Wazwaz said.
Roeske said the child would’ve likely survived had she been properly restrained.
“I guess the bottom line is, if a child is in the seat (he or she) is supposed to be in, and it’s used properly, the child would not be ejected,” he said. “(The seats) are holding a child in five different places versus a regular seatbelt.”
He added that a properly used child seat is the safest seat in a vehicle.
Roeske said the investigation into the crash will likely take weeks, and once completed, information will be passed along to the Anoka County Attorney.