Driver accused of drunkenly killing family is wracked with sorrow, grandmother says

The 20-year-old man suspected of drunkenly crashing into a family on Halloween night has been unable to stop crying since their deaths, according to a relative.

“He’s broken too,” said Lillian Navarro, the grandmother of Carlo Navarro, who is accused of killing Joseph Awaida, 30, his wife Raihan Dakhil, 32, and their 3-year-old son, Omar, as they walked by Los Cerritos Park. Carlo Navarro is free on $100,000 bail while prosecutors weigh charges against him.

He and his family are horrified about what happened, and they’re preparing to face the punishment, according to Lillian Navarro.

Joseph Awaida and Raihan Dakhil, and their baby boy Omar. Photo courtesy of GoFundMe.

“They know there’s extreme consequences,” she said during a brief interview on the Navarro family’s front porch in North Long Beach, just a couple of miles from the scene of the deadly crash.

The grandmother said she wants people to know what happened was an accident, one that her grandson understands had tragic results.

“He’s crying all the time,” Lillian Navarro said. “He can’t keep a normal life now.”

She said she doesn’t know what her grandson was doing on Halloween night before the fatal wreck.

Police said Navarro has been cooperative with their investigation. Witnesses said he stayed at the scene, sitting on the curb until officers arrived and took him into custody on suspicion of manslaughter and driving under the influence.

Lillian Navarro said her grandson’s cooperation doesn’t surprise her. She called him a good kid who has a steady job working as a die-caster.

The wreckage after an SUV jumped a curb and hit two adults and a child walking along Los Cerritos Park. Photo by Jeremiah Dobruck.

The wreckage after an SUV jumped a curb and hit two adults and a child walking along Los Cerritos Park. Photo by Jeremiah Dobruck.

However, this isn’t the first time Carlo Navarro has been in trouble with the law.

In June, police arrested him in connection with a burglary at a business in Bixby Knolls, and prosecutors charged him with burglary, vandalism and possession of burglary tools, according to authorities. More information about that case wasn’t immediately available.

As friends and family have mourned the Awaida family, anger at Carlo Navarro has poured out online. Lillian Navarro said her family has been getting death threats.

People’s wrath has been so intense it’s also spilled over to targets unrelated to the tragedy. Luis Navarro, the owner of Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, said his restaurant has been subject to threats because of his last name. He has no relation to Carlo Navarro, but people who assume he does have sent messages saying he “raised a monster” and his business “will be ruined forever.”

Nevertheless, Luis Navarro said his concern lies with the family of Joseph, Raihan and Omar as they endure unimaginable loss.

“Hate, speculation and assumptions are a normal reaction to tragedy,” he said. “I hope we can refocus our positive energy towards the grieving family who is in true need of love, and space.”

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.