Heartbroken Melbourne mourns Thalia


vMelbournes jewish community  was this week mourning the death of a 10-year-old girl who was killed by a crazed driver.

Thalia Hakin was one of five people to die when 26-year-old Dimitri Gargasoulos drove a stolen car wildly in circles at a busy intersection and then ploughed into pedestrians last Friday.

Thalia’s father, Tony, maintained a vigil at the hospital bedside of his wife, Nathalie, and nine-year-old daughter, Maggie, this week as they lay critically injured following the ramming.

More than two dozen people were injured in the incident, which police said was not a terrorist attack.

Thalia was a student at the city’s Beth Rivkah Jewish day school.

Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler, principal, told the JC: “Our hearts are broken at the tragic passing of Thalia. She was a well-loved student and friend in the school community.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to her family at this most difficult time.

“Our thoughts and tefillos (prayers), are with all the victims, their families and friends.

“We are providing support and counseling to the school community and our students in dealing with this tragedy.”

More than 1,000 people attended a prayer service next to the school on Sunday night.

Thalia and Maggie had attended a gym run by Israeli-born Avi Yemini.

Mr Yemini said: “We are all devastated by what has happened.

“When I found out the identity of this family I realised with a sick feeling in my gut that these little girls were students at our gym.

“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.”

Police ended the attack by ramming the car, shooting Gargasoulos in the arm and arresting him.

Local TV networks broadcast footage of him driving the car wildly around the area, leaning out of a window and ploughing into pedestrians.

He faces five murder charges.

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