“This is a great tragedy”; Rochester student among 5 women killed in fatal crash Friday night
(KSTP) – A horrific crash — and a day of mourning.
“This is a great tragedy that happened to our family, our community,” says Abdulahi Farah, one of the leaders of the Dar Al-Farooq Center in Bloomington.
Five young lives taken too soon.
17-year-old Sabiriin Ali, 20-year-old Sahra Gesaade, 20-year-old Salma Abdikadir, 19-year-old Sagal Hersi, and 19-year-old Siham Adam — were all longtime friends and members of the center’s Islamic community.
Gesaade was entering her junior year at the University of Minnesota Rochester.
“Families are still processing,” explains Khalid Omar, the Center Director. “Some are just working through this moment of grief. They’re all coping, trying to figure out a way to move forward from this situation.”
Police say around 10:15 Friday night, a driver blew through a red light at Lake Street and 2nd Avenue — and slammed into a car with the five young women inside.
All of them, authorities say, died at the scene.
“This is an incredibly tragic and horrific scene,” declared Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara. “We suspect the driver was impaired.”
The chief says moments before, a state trooper was parked on Northbound 35W near 46th Street, working a radar detail.
“[He] observed this car coming by in excess of the speed limit,” O’Hara says. “The trooper then started to drive and attempt to get close to the vehicle to stop it — and was unable to catch up to the car before this accident happened.”
Authorities believe that vehicle, an SUV, passed the trooper at speeds of more than 95 miles per hour — before it left the highway on an exit ramp.
Police say after the crash, a man got out of the car and ran off, but that an officer eventually caught and arrested the suspected driver.
Investigators say he was transported to HCMC for medical evaluation and remained there as of late Saturday night.
Authorities have not identified the suspect or commented on potential charges.
On Saturday afternoon, the Dar Al-Farooq Center held a special service to honor the five lives that were lost — trying to comfort the families the best they could.
“We created space for them to grieve and to be able to work through this situation, this crisis that took place,” Omar says.
He called the young women ‘pearls of the community — and the brightness of our future.’
“Sabiriin Ali recently graduated from Edina High School. Two weeks ago, we were celebrating that milestone,” Omar recalls. “Salma Abdikadir was a teacher at our center. She served and taught students here at our center. Unfortunately, next weekend, these students are going to be without their teacher.”
The center’s leaders tell our sister station, Hubbard Broadcasting’s Twin Cities KSTP-TV, that the victims had just finished a shopping trip in preparation for a friend’s wedding that was to be held Saturday night.
And — that several parents of the young women had talked to their daughters just fifteen minutes before the crash.
Now — everything has changed.
The center is working on funeral plans to be held in the next day or so.
“We also want to look into what happened and get more information from officials as well,” Farah says. “But at this moment, I think we’re focusing on healing the hearts and really dealing with this tragedy. It came as a shock to all of us.”