SYDNEY/BEIRUT: An alleged drunk driver has been charged with multiple offenses, including manslaughter, after an SUV struck seven children on a Sydney sidewalk, killing four and seriously injuring a fifth.
The incident took place before 8 p.m. Saturday. The vehicle was driven by Samuel Davidson, police said.
Three of the children who were killed were siblings. The fourth child killed was the daughter of their father’s cousin.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab said in a tweet Sunday, “This tragedy has affected all of Lebanon and not just the families of the victims.”
“As a mother I share the sorrow of the Abdallah family,” said Justice Minister Marie Claude Najm.
She added that she will follow up, in coordination with the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, on investigations of the incident by authorities in Sydney.
Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry offered its condolences to the bereaved families in a statement released Saturday evening.
Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti gave instructions to the Lebanese Ambassador in Australia to follow up on the incident and provide help to the grieving families.
Speaking to reporters Sunday, the father of the three children, Danny Abdallah, said, “I don’t know what to say. I’m numb. All I want to say is: please, drivers, be careful.”
“These kids were just walking innocently, enjoying each other’s company ... and this morning I woke up and I have lost three kids,” he added.
His children Antony, 13, Angelina, 12 and Sienna, 9, were killed. Their 10-year-old brother, who was injured in the incident, is in hospital in a serious but stable condition.
Abdallah added that his cousin had lost an 11-year-old child named Veronique Sakr in the tragedy.
Another two girls, aged 10 and 13, suffered minor injuries, authorities said.
Davidson, the alleged driver, was arrested at the scene on Saturday and remains in custody.
The 20 charges against him, including four of manslaughter, were read in a Sydney court on Sunday. He did not appear in court and was refused bail until his next court appearance on April 2.
Davidson has not entered any pleas. Manslaughter carries a potential maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
Davidson allegedly recorded a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent - three-times the legal limit in Australia.
Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Jason Joyce said the driver remained at the scene until the police arrived and there were indications his 24-year-old male passenger had tried to help some of the children. Neither the driver nor the passenger was injured.