There’s now a new mural at Los Cerritos Park honoring a young family that was killed by a drunk driver on Halloween nearly three years ago.

Joseph Awaida, Raihan Dakhil and their 3-year-old son Omar lived across the street from the park where they were hit while walking home after a Halloween party with relatives in 2019. Their deaths shook the neighborhood. Many teens and kids were in the area trick-or-treating when a 20-year-old driver, who has since been convicted of three counts of murder, crashed into them at nearly 70 mph.

Today, neighbors, friends and loved ones gathered at the park to collaborate on a colorful new tribute in honor of Omar and his parents, who volunteered their time comforting abused children at local hospitals.

Three-year-old Omar Awaida; father, Joseph Awaida; and mother, Raihan Dakhil. Photo courtesy the Awaida family.

The mural features Omar riding a tricycle along with two other children.

“I’m very pleased with how it’s coming out,” said Omar’s grandmother, Vera Awaida. She said the young family was dedicated to their Long Beach community, and she was touched that the city wanted to create a lasting tribute to them.

The new art piece was created as part of a mural project funded by City Council District 7 called “7 for 7,” where city officials have been working with The Arts Council For Long Beach to bring seven new murals to the district.

Los Cerritos Park hasn’t been part of District 7 since redistricting last year placed the area in District 5, but it was chosen as one of the locations for the project because the council office had developed a relationship with the Awaida family and wanted to honor them with a mural, said Cynthia Lujan, director of public art for the Arts Council for Long Beach.

People help paint a new mural featuring 3-year-old Omar Awaida at Los Cerritos Park Saturday, Sept. 24. Photo by Fernando Haro.

The idea for what would be featured on the mural was brought forward by Long Beach resident LaJon Miller, who has previously worked with the Arts Council on other art pieces around the city.

For this mural, Miller said he wanted to feature Omar alongside other children so that kids at the park can look at the piece and relate to it.

“I wanted to do a tribute to the Awaida family, but I also wanted to create an image that was going to be positive, less somber, but still positive,” Miller said. “… something where the kids can feel connected to the artwork too as well as the community.”

With the bulk of the work done Saturday, the mural is expected to be finished sometime next week.

A crash, 3 deaths and questions of blame