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Leader Editorial: Community mourns together over tragedy

The opinion of the Leader

October 05, 2013
  • Mourners attend the funeral for Malak Hariri at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. About 400 people came to pay their respects at the funeral. Hariri was one of five people who died in a single vehicle car crash last Saturday in Burbank.
Mourners attend the funeral for Malak Hariri at Pierce… (Raul Roa/Staff…)

There is a pall on this city today, with residents still absorbing the fact that a fiery, single-car crash that took place Sept. 28 on San Fernando Boulevard ended the lives of five of our promising young people and injured a sixth.

As that Saturday morning dawned and local school boosters were preparing to raise funds for the John Burroughs High music program during its annual "Community Day," word began to spread that there had been a horrible accident.

And now we find ourselves one week later. Several Burbank businesses this weekend are staging entirely different fundraisers than the Community Day event: They're raising money to give to five mourning families. In a separate effort, online GoFundMe accounts have been set up to help pay for memorial services for each of the victims.

The young adults who perished in that 4 a.m. crash — along with the young woman who managed to escape the inferno — were products of both Burroughs and Burbank High. Those who died were our own and their sudden loss is beyond comprehension. We try to conjure up reasons for this tragedy, perhaps to ease our own minds, but we won't know the full details until the investigation is complete. The facts we do know: They were traveling in pre-dawn hours; there were six individuals in a car with five seat belts; the car, which police say was traveling at high speed, collided with a concrete pillar; a fire ensued.

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It of course does not matter what caused the collision. As long as there are machines we can drive or pilot, there will be occasional fatal accidents. What does matter is that this close-knit, compassionate city is banding together and offering all the support it can to the surviving families and the wider circle of friends and teachers whose lives were impacted by this loss. It's a sad situation, but if ever there can be something positive coming from a tragedy, it is the solid knowledge that we have fellow community members on whose kindness we can rely.

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