Oatlands tragedy: Girl’s funeral after alleged drunk-driver crash
There were incredible scenes today as thousands of people gathered to farewell a young girl run down by an alleged drink-driver as she went to get ice cream in Sydney’s west.
Veronique Sakr, 11, was killed when a car mounted an Oatlands footpath ten days ago.
She died at the scene alongside her cousins Sienna Abdallah, 8, Angelina Abdallah, 12, and Antony Abdallah, 13.
Doves and balloons were released as she was given a guard of honour by hundreds of her fellow Santa Sabina College pupils at her funeral in the school’s chapel in Strathfield.
Veronique’s brother Michael held back tears as he took off his school blazer at the end of his sister’s funeral and picked up a drum to join his bandmates during the procession.
Veronique’s mum Bridget and the mum of the Abdallah siblings Leila together carried a large portrait of the 11-year-old as her coffin was carried into the hearse after the ceremony.
They then walked arm-in-arm with their husbands, Bob and Danny respectively, as they walked through a massive guard of honour.
It comes a just a day after a massive joint funeral for the other three victims.
The crowd spilled outside the 850-capacity chapel in Sydney’s west this morning as hundreds came to farewell the 11-year-old.
The priest giving the homily at the funeral, Monsignor Shora Maree, said Veronique’s mother Bridget told him she had forgiveness in her heart.
“Bridget said we have forgiven,” he said.
“(Alleged) bad decisions, abuse if a substance, misuse of technology and speeding, that’s what has caused this loss. God did not cause this.”
Bridget Sakr then spoke recalling some of the words her daughter told her on the day she died.
She said Veronique was wise beyond her years, adding she was “caring, funny, witty and quick”.
She said Veronique did not care for material things.
“She never had a toy or a doll growing up and now that makes sense to me,” she said.
“She belonged to the spiritual world and earthly possessions meant nothing to her. Her passion was in people.”
She said that on the day Veronique died the 11-year-old told her mum, “you know I like talking to older people more than I do younger people.”
There was a sea of blue in and around the church. The family asked attendees to wear blue as it was Veronique’s favourite colour.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was among those shuffling in before the white hearse arrived.
Family members held up pictures of Veronique and gold crosses as she was carried into the church.
Today her family has released a statement saying their beloved daughter had an “incredible sense of compassion and empathy for others”.
“She always opened her kind heart to everyone who was in need of a friend,” they said. “She was a bright spark with an infectious smile and a cheeky grin who could hold her own in any company.
“Her greatest joy was being in the presence of family and friends, enjoying conversations with everyone from all ages and walks of life.”
They said the love she shared with her brother Michael was “beautiful and unrivalled”.
When Michael was told about the tragedy, he asked, “Dad, how do I do it?”. His dad answered: “Do what?”.
Michael said, “Live my life without her?”.
The family said Veronique “embraced all that life had to offer”.
“She loved to dance, kick a ball, rock-climb and endlessly swim in the pool or beach,” they said. “She was a lover of dogs and her caring and motherly nature meant her six goldfish were adored like her own children.”
About 2000 people filled Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Harris Park on Monday morning to farewell the three Abdallah siblings.
Monsignor Shora Maree praised the children’s mother Leila Geagea for her forgiveness in the face of the tragedy.
When Ms Geagea visited the site where three of her six children died, she said she forgave the alleged drink-driver.
“Danny and Leila, we have seen in you the most inspirational example and testimony that is true of the power of God’s love,” he said.
“Leila, you said the words of forgiveness that shocked the world, it shocked the world.
“That doesn’t come from something human, it comes from the divine. What an inspiration for all of us. We’ve seen the renewal of faith for many.”
Leila then joined the stage and led a prayer, saying her three children were now in heaven.
Samuel William Davidson, 29, was allegedly three times the legal blood alcohol limit when he is said to have driven into the children.
He’s been charged with 20 offences, including four counts of manslaughter, and is due to next appear in court in April.
Originally published as Crash brother’s brave act at funeral