Parents who lost three of their children in a horror car crash have been accused of believing in ‘cult like fairy tales’ in an online outburst by a Greens activist.
Daniel Abdallah and his wife Leila lost three of their six children, Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna, 8, after an alleged drunk driver ploughed into them in Oatlands, in Sydney’s north-west on February 1.
The children’s 11-year-old cousin, Veronique Sakr, was also killed in the accident that shocked Australia, with the family turning to their faith to help them heal from the tragedy.
A documentary ‘In The Blink Of An Eye’ is set to air on Channel Seven on Tuesday night, detailing how religion helped the heartbroken families move forward.
But a former Greens campaigner and Greenpeace Director, Chris Harris, launched a deplorable outburst criticising the Abdallah’s faith, saying organised religion is a ‘curse against humanity’.
The Abdallah family (pictured) are seen before tragedy struck on February 1, killing three of their six children and their niece
Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna Abdallah, 9, (pictured, left) and their cousin Veronique Sakr, 11, (right) were allegedly mowed down by drunk driver Samuel William Davidson as they walked to get ice cream
The parents of the three children killed, Antony (far right), Angelina, (second right), and Sienna (centre left) used their faith in God to help them heal
Executive producer of the project, Mark Llewellyn, tweeted a picture of the documentary on Saturday captioned: ‘Some of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met. Faith in the face of adversity.’
Mr Harris replied: ‘Don’t you mean belief in fairy tales in the face of all the evidence?
‘I understand how and why people escape into religion. I just happen to believe that organized religion and the cult like belief systems attached are a curse on humanity.
‘Regrettably many people feel a need for these belief systems religious or otherwise.’
Mr Harris said everyone had different ways of dealing with grief, but religion was ‘not my choice for sure’.
Former Greens campaigner, Chris Harris, said organised religion was a ‘curse on humanity’ after photos from a documentary on the Oatlands crash were tweeted
Mr Harris (pictured) compared organised religion to a ‘cult’ and said it was a ‘curse against humanity’
Mr Harris (pictured, front left) is a former Australian Greens Campaign coordinator and now labels himself a ‘freelance community activist’
‘And to be clear I think people can believe anything they want so long as it’s not damaging to others,’ he said.
Mr Llewellyn admitted he was taken aback by the comments.
‘The country needs more people like Danny and Leila Abdallah and less people like Chris Jones Harris,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Mr Harris for comment.
Calling himself an ‘activist’ online, Mr Harris claims to be the former Greens National Campaign Coordinator and an ex-Greenpeace director.
Mr Abdallah prayed with his son Antony (pictured) just hours before the horror crash in February
Mr Harris (pictured) also worked as the executive director for Greenpeace Mediterranean for a year
The Byron Bay local was the Greens coordinator between 2011 and 2014, according to his LinkedIn.
He then went to work for the NSW Greens party as State Election Campaign Manager.
He also worked as an executive director for Greenpeace Mediterranean branch for a year and now describes himself a ‘freelance activist’.
His Facebook shows a flurry of posts regarding Australian politics including a collage of what he deemed the most ‘incompetent and/or corrupt ministers in Australian history’.
Mrs Abdallah (pictured) frequently returned to the crash scene with her husband in the weeks after the accident
The Abdallah children were among seven children riding their bikes to get ice-cream with their babysitter when they were hit by alleged drunk driver, Samuel William Davidson, 29, on Bettington Road, one of the main thoroughfares through Oatlands.
CCTV footage allegedly captured Davidson’s vehicle speeding down the street minutes before.
Davidson allegedly recorded a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 per cent – three-times the legal limit in Australia.
The son of a retired NSW police detective, Davidson was charged with 20 offences including four counts of manslaughter, and four counts of dangerous driving occasioning death while driving under the influence.
Mrs Abdallah (pictured, centre) is seen as she arrived at the scene on the morning after the crash, after the children’s father Daniel said he was ‘numb’ from their deaths
Leila Abdallah (pictured) is seen grieving the loss of three of her children after they were allegedly ploughed into by a drunk driver in Oatlands in Sydney’s western suburbs
The morning after the crash, Leila and Daniel Abdallah visited the site where their three children were killed.
The couple’s strength and bravery in the weeks to follow moved Australia.
They frequently returned to the crash scene to pray and even vowed to forgive the driver Davidson.
‘I don’t know what to say. I’m numb, probably that’s what I feel at the moment. All I want to say is please, drivers, be careful,’ Mr Abdallah said tearfully on the day after the crash.
‘These kids were just walking innocently, enjoying each other’s company … and this morning I woke up and I have lost three kids.’
‘I always say full-time father, part-time worker. They were my priority. And now they’re gone.’
Bridget Sakr (pictured, in blue dress) is supported by her partner Craig MacKenzie, and Danny and Leila Abdallah (end left and right) whose children were killed in the same accident
A documentary detailing the heartbreak felt by the families involved will air on Channel Seven on Tuesday (pictured, the Abdallah family before tragedy struck)
Daniel Abdallah (pictured, centre) broke down in tears outside his home a day after the attack and said he was ‘numb’ after losing three children
He added the eldest of the three children he lost, Antony, was a ‘very handsome boy’ who loved playing basketball.
Mr Abdallah and his son Antony had prayed together at St Mary’s Church just hours before the crash.
‘He woke up that morning and said, ”We’re going to play this game for Kobe [Bryant].”’
The devastated father meanwhile described Angelina as his ‘little helper’.
‘Anything I needed, she had my back,’ he said. ‘And Sienna, she was my little diva. My little actress. They’ve gone to a better place.’
The couple and their cousin Bridget Sakr – mother of Veronique – attended St Mary’s Cathedral for an Easter Sunday service two months after losing their children.
As Angelina Abdallah (left), 12, lay lifeless just moments after a horror car crash, Margret Primc sat with her and stroked her head before planting a kiss on her forehead
Outside church Mr Abdallah told how the service held extra significance for him, as it was the last place he prayed with his son Antony on the morning of the tragedy.
‘We haven’t been back since, so that’s why it was a special moment for us here today as well.’
‘Every word I said was so true. Our focus is on God and building our life in heaven, we are not building our life here,’ Mrs Abdallah said outside mass.
‘Today we feel so honoured to be here and to be able to participate in mass.’
One woman earlier spoke to Daily Mail Australia about how she stroked the head of one of the children moments after she had been killed.
Antony Abdallah (pictured, left), 13, who was killed in the horror crash alongside his 11-year-old cousin Veronique Sakr (right)
From the backyard of her home, Margret Primc was able to see across Oatlands Golf Course to Bettington Road, where a 4WD had crashed through a fence.
Just seconds after hearing an enormous bang shortly before 8pm on the night came the harrowing screams of a young girl.
‘Help me, help me please,’ the girl was heard wailing.
Ms Primc told how after ringing Triple Zero she ran to join partner John Matheson who had instantly sprinted to the scene.
She immediately came across Angelina, 12, who was lying unconscious on the ground, and helped another man perform CPR on her.
‘There I was doing mouth-to-mouth on this 12-year-old and the paramedics came and checked her vitals,’ Ms Primc said.
Distressed witnesses were seen being comforted at the tragic scene by emergency workers (pictured)
Samuel William Davidson (pictured being taken away in handcuffs and shirtless) was charged with 20 offences including manslaughter
‘They pronounced her dead but there were injured kids everywhere so they had to try to help them.
‘I thought “I can’t leave you darling”, so I stayed with her for a while like a mother.
HOW THE TRAGEDY UNFOLDED
* Seven children were riding their bikes along the footpath of Beddington Road, Oatlands, just before 8pm on Saturday
* The children were on the way to buy ice cream when a Mitsubishi 4WD allegedly ploughed into them
*Residents raced to children’s aid and frantically tried to save them while waiting for emergency services
*Four children – including a boy, two of his sisters and a family friend – died at the scene
* Another boy, ten, was rushed to hospital with critical head injuries but is now in a stable condition
* Two girls were taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries
*Male 4WD driver, a 29-year-old from Oatlands, underwent roadside breath test and returned positive result
*The alleged driver Samuel Davidson was arrested and taken to Castle Hill Police with his 24-year-old male passenger
*Davidson was charged with four counts of manslaughter
‘I just sat there for a while and stroked her head and kissed her on the forehead, and tidied her top a bit because it had ridden up.
‘Later that night I saw the mother and she just said: “Thank you, I couldn’t bare to go near her”.’
Terri Horton was in the front yard of her home – less than 200 metres away from the crash site – when her dog approached the children as they walked past in a group on their way to the local shops.
‘They were talking and giggling, and our dog was on a leash but he loves attention so he ran over closer to them,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I walked inside to get the bins and then as I walked out a few minutes later I heard this bang. It was so loud. I thought a car had crashed into a house.’
But the sound that followed was worse.
‘All I could hear was a little girl, screaming at the top of her lungs,’ Mrs Horton said.
She ran inside and yelled out to her husband John to come and help, and he quickly joined a group of other men already running down the steep hill to the scene.
‘I was watching the tennis when Terri came in and yelled out to me,’ Mr Horton said.
‘I ran out the front and there were a few other men from the other houses nearby on the way already, we were all just running down there.’
Ahead of him was another man – who did not want to be named – who knows the Abdallah family well.
He said when he heard the screams and began running to the scene he had no idea that he would find the children of his close friend dead.
‘You don’t want to know what I saw, you really don’t,’ he recalled.
‘It’s the stuff of nightmares.
Leila Abdallah (pictured) the mother of three children killed by an alleged drunk driver, bravely returned to the scene of the accident to pray the rosary on February 3
‘I ran down and was there within ten to 15 seconds and they were gone. Some of the neighbours performed CPR but they were gone.
‘We just can’t believe it. They are the last people this deserved to happen to.’
When Mr Horton arrived just seconds later he immediately ran to help the girl who had been screaming only moments earlier.
By now she had entered into a state of shock, so Mr Horton offered her his phone so she could call her parents.
‘The poor little girl, she was so strong but just in total shock,’ he said.
‘When I was walking down I initially thought there were seven bodies and someone had said ‘they’re all dead’, but then two of the girls got up.
‘I gave the oldest girl my phone and said ‘call your parents’. She did and they were at the scene a few minutes later, even before the ambulance had arrived.
‘You just can’t describe it. It was heartbreaking.’
Friends gathered around Mrs Abdallah (pictured, in grey) as she read condolence cards left at the scene of the devastating accident which claimed the lives of three of her six children
Mrs Abdallah told media she ‘forgives’ Davidson (pictured), despite him being allegedly three times over the legal blood alcohol limit when his Mitsubishi Triton mounted the kerb, killing three of her children
United in grief: Family of Oatlands crash victims are comforted by hundreds of mourners at the scene where four children lost their lives
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Sydney’s north-west for an emotional vigil honouring the lives of the four young children who were tragically mowed down by an alleged drunk driver on Saturday, February 1.
Heartbroken friends and relatives crowded around a sea of flowers, candles and teddy bears on Bettington Road, in Oatlands – where siblings Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna Abdallah, nine, and their 11-year-old cousin Veronique Sakr, were struck and killed.
Leila Abdallah, the mother of the three siblings, appeared overcome with emotion as she knelt down and prayed at the scene of the horror incident on Monday evening.
Mourners were seen comforting each other while laying down rosary beads, messages of condolences and framed photographs of the four kids at makeshift memorial along the footpath.
The emotional service was led by a priest who guided the crowd through a recital of the Lord’s Prayer and the stations of the cross.
The victims’ families are believed to be members of the local Maronite Christian community in Oatlands, where they are well known.
Heartbreaking: Leila Abdallah, the mother of the three siblings, appeared overcome with emotion as she knelt down and prayed at the scene of the horror incident
One unidentified relative was seen kissing a framed photo of one of the victims left at the makeshift memorial
Mourners were seen laying rosary beads, flowers, and picture frames at a vigil two days after the crash
Members of the Abdallah family comforted each other as they paid tribute to the children
Two relatives comfort each other as they mourn the loss of the four young children taken too soon
Large crowds gathered at the crash site after the Abdallah family invited those affected by the tragedy to attend the vigil