SYDNEY (JTA) — The father of a 10-year-old Jewish Melbourne girl killed in a rampage by a crazed driver in the city’s downtown is at the bedside of his wife and nine-year-old daughter who were critically injured in the incident.
Thalia Hakin was one five of people including a 3-month-old baby killed when Dimitri Gargasoulo, 26, drove a stolen car wildly in circles at a busy intersection in the Central Business District and then ploughed the car into pedestrians in a nearby street.
Local media reports that about 20 people were injured in the incident. Tony Hakin, father of Thalia, reportedly has remained at the hospital bedsides of his wife, Naomi, and their daughter Maggie, 9.
Victorian police say the incident was not a terrorist attack.
Thalia Hakin was a student in Melbourne’s Beth Rivkah Jewish day school. Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler, Principal of Yeshivah – Beth Rivkah Colleges, told JTA: “Our hearts are broken at the tragic passing of Thalia. Thalia was a well-loved student and friend in the school community. Our deepest sympathies goes out to her family at this most difficult time”.
“Our thoughts and tefillos (prayers), are with all the victims, their families and friends,” the rabbi said.
He added that the school is providing support and counseling for the students and the rest of the school community to help them deal with the tragedy.
Thalia and Maggie had attended the IDF Training Gym after school program run by Avi Yemini.
“We are all devastated by what has happened. If and when her mother and sister leave the hospital it will be to bury their loved one,” Yemini said.
He said the sisters were “two little girls who came to class each week with bright and warm smiles. They were always happy and bubbly and I am heartbroken to know that they have been torn apart in this most senseless and horrific way.”
Yemini has launched an online campaign to raise funds for the family.