Jewish day schooler, 10, among five killed in Melbourne traffic rampage


SYDNEY (JTA) — A 10-year-old Jewish day school student in Melbourne was killed and her 9-year-old sister and mother were critically injured in a rampage by the driver of a stolen car in the city’s downtown.

Thalia Hakin was one of five people killed Friday when Dimitri Gargasoulo, 26, plowed the vehicle into pedestrians on a street near the Central Business District after driving in circles at a busy intersection. A 3-month-old baby also was among those killed.

About 20 people were injured in the incident, which Victorian police said was not a terrorist attack, according to local media reports.

Thalia’s father, Tony, reportedly has remained at the hospital bedsides of his wife, Nathalie, and their daughter Maggie. The two are in different hospitals.

Thalia Hakin was a student at the Beth Rivkah Jewish day school in Melbourne.

“Our hearts are broken at the tragic passing of Thalia,” Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler, the principal of Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah Colleges, told JTA. “Thalia was a well-loved student and friend in the school community. Our deepest sympathies goes out to her family at this most difficult time.

“Our thoughts and tefillos [prayers] are with all the victims, their families and friends.”

Smukler added that the school is providing support and counseling for the students and the rest of the school community to help them deal with the tragedy.

The Hakin sisters had attended the IDF Training Gym afterschool program.

“We are all devastated by what has happened,” said Avi Yemini, who runs the program. “If and when her mother and sister leave the hospital, it will be to bury their loved one.”

He said the sisters were “two little girls who came to class each week with bright and warm smiles. They were always happy and bubbly, and I am heartbroken to know that they have been torn apart in this most senseless and horrific way.”

Yemini has launched an online campaign to raise funds for the family.


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