Community responds to death of DVC student


(Photo courtesy of Bacha Khani)

Waheedullah Etimad alongside his seven young children. (Photo courtesy of Bacha Khani)

Isabel Villalobos, Senior staff member

Diablo Valley College student Waheedullah Etimad, 40, was put to rest Tuesday, Feb. 5, after he died in a fatal wrong-way car accident in San Francisco on Highway 101 early Sunday, Feb. 3. Etimad was a full time student at DVC with a major in computer science.

The first collision was reported at 2:33 a.m. with a vehicle traveling southbound in the northbound lanes near Vermont Street striking two vehicles, according to CHP Officer Bert Diaz.  The wrong-way vehicle then struck a mini-van that was carrying six passengers south of Cesar Chavez Street according to Diaz who told KPIX5 about the incident.

Etimad was killed while he was driving his five passengers for Uber. Etimad, alongside being a full time student at DVC, was also an Uber driver, who even worked weekends. Evidently, Uber emailed a statement on the incident Sunday afternoon that read, “this was a horrible tragic incident and our hearts go out to the victim and his grieving family. We stand ready to work with authorities to assist their investigation in any way we can.”

Both the driver of the mini-van and the driver of the wrong-way vehicle Kayla Wilson, 21, were killed. According to abc7 news, the five other passengers of the van were transported to hospitals with undisclosed injuries. Overall nine were injured after the wrong-way driver was involved in two separate collisions, as stated by the California Highway Patrol and the San Francisco fire department.

Abc7news also reported that all the lanes of the northbound U.S Highway 101 freeway were blocked from 2:40 a.m. until just before 10 a.m. A total of five vehicles were being towed away from the scene.

Etimad was an Afghan immigrant who came into the United States in 2015 in order to support his wife and seven children. He also worked with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan as a translator for the army troops. He left that line of work after being shot at five times during a Taliban attack.

KRON4 news interviewed Etimad’s 13-year-old son Yahya who remembered when he was first given the news about his father

“Two policemen came and they were like we have bad news for you they took my mom my sister and me upstairs and said ‘I have bad news, your dad passed away,” Yahya told KRON4. “My dad is not here and without him everyone is sad…they miss him a lot and I miss him.”

According to the Mercury News, a fundraiser raised on GoFundMe was designed to help Etimad’s family they raised $200,000 by midday Tuesday. Another GoFundMe was also made by the Muslim Community Center to help pay for Etimad’s funeral services.

Those apart of the Muslim Community Center have come together to help Etimad’s family. Volunteer of the Muslim Community Center, Munir Safi told abc7news that “after we meet with the family were gonna put them on a stipend and pay their rent for a year to help them out.”

Aminah Abdullah, a coordinator for the charity work for the Muslim Community Center East Bay in Pleasanton hosted the funeral services and started a toy and clothing drive for his children. The community is also helping the family by providing groceries, hot meals, gift cards, and monetary donations.

“He was a very hard-working person and family man trying to give his children a better life,” Sadat Barakazi, a friend of Etimad’s told the Sacramento Bee. “His family is in desperate need, they have nobody here.”

Etimad’s family are not only dealing with the loss of a father, but the fact that they are not U.S Citizens has also drawn concern. However, in the midst of grieving the loss of Etimad, the Muslin Community Center are doing what they can to try to make sure that they can stay in the United States.

With their prayers, family and friends said their last goodbyes to Etimad Tuesday afternoon. Mourning his father’s death Yahya told abc7 news that he remembers his dad as a hero, “I just feel for my dad, we all miss him so much.”