A family of five from Michigan was killed when a suspected drunken driver heading the wrong way on a Kentucky highway slammed into their vehicle as they were returning home from a vacation, officials said.
Issam Abbas, 42, his wife, Dr. Rima Abbas, 38, and their kids Ali, 14, Isabella, 13, and Giselle, 7, all died Sunday after their SUV went up in a fireball after being struck head-on by a pickup truck headed south in a northbound lane on I-75 in Lexington, police said.
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The family from Northville, Michigan, was returning from a vacation in Florida, officials said.
The driver of the pickup — identified as Joey Lee Bailey, 41, of Georgetown, Kentucky– also was killed in the 2:30 a.m. accident.
The Fayette County coroner’s office said authorities believe Bailey was driving under the influence and that toxicology tests were planned.
Witness Kenneth DeGraaf told WLEX-TV the truck was coming toward him before the fiery collision.
“I thought I was seeing something, honestly,” DeGraaf said. “He was in the center lane. I was in the center lane. I had to merge out of the way at the last second to get to the right lane. I mean, he was flying. Absolutely flying.”
Friends of the close-knit family were devastated by the loss of Issam Abbas, a lawyer and real estate agent, his wife, who was a family doctor, and their children.
“You don’t expect a whole family to get wiped out,” Habib Abbas, Issam Abbas’ cousin, told the Detroit News. “You think to yourself, ‘What’s the worst case scenario?’ and that’s it.”
Habib Abbas, 44, of Dearborn said the loving couple appeared to have it all.
“They had a beautiful life, home and a perfect love story,” he said.
Sam Baydoun, a Wayne County commissioner and real estate broker who had worked with Issam, called the tragedy “incomprehensible.”
He described Issam as a devoted family man who worked for three years in the Northville office of the Curran & Oberski real estate firm.
“It’s such a tragedy,” Baydoun told the news outlet.
Rima Abbas, a graduate of Wayne State University School of Medicine, was a family medicine doctor at the Beaumont Medical Center in Garden City.
“We are devastated by the tragic loss of Dr. Rima Abbas, her beloved husband and children,” David Wood, Beaumont Health’s chief medical officer, told the Detroit News
“She was a caring mother and a dedicated family practice physician. Our hearts go out to all of her family, friends and patients during this difficult time.”
Rima also was the granddaughter of the founder of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Kassem Allie, executive administrator of the mosque, told the paper.
A statement from Northville Public Schools, which the couple’s three kids attended, said support staff would be available Monday to help students deal with the loss, according to NBC affiliate WDIV.
“Our hearts go out to this grieving family and all those affected by this tremendous loss,” the statement said.
With Post wires
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