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Nearly $80K Raised For Family Of Afghan Immigrant Killed While Riding Bike


A fundraising effort for the family of an Afghan immigrant who died, and his son critically injured, after being hit by a car while cycling in Sacramento has raised nearly $80,000. 

Mustafa Rafi, 33, an electrical engineer who worked with the U.S. military while in Afghanistan, died form his injuries. Eight-year-old Omar Rafi was also hit by the car and remains in critical condition. 

According to organizers of the fundraiser, the family of Mustafa Rafi, arrived from Afghanistan just 10 days before the tragedy. 

The family which included Rafi, his wife and four children moved to Sacramento to flee a "Taliban-controlled territory in Afghanistan," according to fundraiser organizers.

Investigators said that at 9:40 a.m. on June 12, Desmen Lashone Carrino, 25, was driving a 1991 Pontiac Grand Prix westbound on Edison Avenue at Horseshoe Drive. 

Rafi and his eight-year-old son, Omar, were riding bicycles in a marked bike lane on the south side of the road. 

Officials say for reasons not yet clear the Pontiac drifted to the right and struck the father and son.

According to the California Highway Patrol, there is reason to believe the driver might have been looking at his cellphone when his car drifted. 

The investigation into the crash is continuing. No charges have been filed.

Rafi was taken to Mercy San Juan Hospital where he died of his injuries. Omar was taken to UC Davis Medical Center. They were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. 

A funeral held for Rafi on July 14 was attended by hundreds of people, many of them are members of Sacramento's growing Afghan community. 

Matteen Helmand, a CSUS student, set up the online fundraiser for the Rafi family. 

Helmand said his family is from Afghanistan and his mother helps other who have recently immigrated to Sacramento. 

When they first heard of the crash, Helmand said his mother immediately went to help the family.

"[The fundraiser] allows them to get back up on their feet," Helmand said. "Money is not going to bring back Mustafa or undo what has happened, but it's going to help them be a bit more comfortable and still pursue what some of their dreams were."

As of Friday afternoon, the fundraiser has collected $79,471 in just four days. 

Helmand said the site has gotten responses from Sacramento, cities around the United States and internationally.

"[The success of the fundraiser] is showing that we can come together and leave all differences aside and help a family that's really in need," he said.

Helmand said he and his mother are speaking with attorneys who will help set up a trust fund for the Rafi family with the funds raised from the Go Fund Me site.

Marnette Federis

Former Digital News Editor

Marnette Federis was a digital news editor at Capital Public Radio. Her journalism experiences include stints as a reporter, videographer and Web producer at traditional print outlets, digital-only publications and a television station.  Read Full Bio 

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