‘I’ve lost my little best friend’

The father of Mustafa Aidan, 9, the little boy killed when a pick-up truck ploughed through the front of a petrol-station restaurant, says the tragedy has cost him his 'friend and companion'.

Saad Aidan says his son Mustafa, 9, was a kind, loving boy who went everywhere with his father. Victor Besa for The National
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AJMAN // The father of Mustafa Aidan, 9, the little boy killed when a pick-up truck ploughed through the front window of a McDonald’s restaurant at an Eppco petrol station in Ajman, says the tragedy has cost him his “friend and companion”.

“He was always with me,” said Saad Aidan, 60, an Iraqi businessman who has lived in the UAE for 11 years.

“During Ramadan, we went together to the mosque to break our fast and to pray the five prayers and Taraweh.”

Mr Aidan, who also has six daughters and another son aged 3, said Mustafa had been named after his eldest son, who died in Iraq at the age of 19.

“Mustafa was known as a very shy and calm boy. He was also very kind with his sisters and loved them so much and was clever at school.

“I do not know how upset I am that he is no longer with us. I can’t express it. I am taking tranquilliser tablets because I cannot handle the situation.

“When I enter the house, I remember him and every detail of the accident. This is my second scourge.”

Mr Aidan had been collecting the family’s food order at the counter in McDonald’s at an Eppco petrol station on July 17 when the pick-up came through the glass facade.

In addition to Mustafa, a 45-year-old Indian woman also died and six others were injured, including two of Mr Aidan’s daughters, aged 10 and 5.

The pick-up driver, a 22-year-old Emirati, is epileptic, and is thought to have suffered a fit that caused him to lose control of the vehicle. Police say he is likely to be charged because he drove while knowing he had the condition.

The bereaved father said he was unhappy because he did not see a police representative at his son’s funeral, although police say the force’s media director was there.

“I am upset that no one from Ajman Police or an official from the emirate visited me or came to the funeral,” he said. “And no one until now has called me and asked if I need anything, neither Ajman Police nor the family of the driver.

“When the police patrol came to the scene I asked an officer to help me to pull my son out from under the car’s wheel, but neither he nor other officers provided me with help, and none of them entered the restaurant.

“I do not want financial compensation or anything, I just want a complete investigation into the case, with justice.”

Col Abdullah Al Hamrani, the deputy commander general of Ajman Police, said he understood the grieving father’s anger and frustration.

“I do not blame him … but this incident could happen in any country in the world, and nothing can prevent destiny.

“We did communicate with them. I went to the incident scene and stayed with the injured people at the hospital until 1.30am and left when I was sure their conditions were stable, and visited them the next day.

“Also, first lieutenant Ahmad Al Ajmani, director of the media department, went to the funeral to represent the general command. Maybe they did not recognise him because he was wearing a kandura.

“We apply justice with both parties, and the police are neutral.”

Col Al Hamrani also defended the police officer who Mr Aidan accused of not helping at the scene, and pointed out that there was a potential problem of legal liability. “If the policeman had pulled the child out and he was dead, the officer might have been blamed for his death.”

roueiti@thenational.ae