Fatal Crash Prompts Friends To Launch Safety Campaign

At first, Sarah Awada did not believe it when she heard that a car crash had killed her friend Osama Nasralla.

Osama Nasralla was studying mechanical engineering on scholarship at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // At first, Sarah Awada did not believe it when she heard that a car crash had killed her friend Osama Nasralla.

"I tried to call him," said Ms Awada, a 17-year-old from Lebanon. "I sent him messages. I said, 'Tell me it's not true. Tell me this is a prank, Osama. You can't be dead'."

"He did not answer, and I started crying."

Mr Nasralla, a 20-year-old Jordanian who was studying mechanical engineering at the Petroleum Institute on scholarship, died instantly in the single-car crash around 9pm near the junction of Muroor Road and Al Falah Street.

The Lexus that Mr Nasralla was driving turned over and struck a pole, splitting the vehicle in half.

Police told Mr Nasralla's family that he was making a left turn when he swerved to miss a pedestrian who was crossing the road.

The crash is under investigation but speed might have been a factor. The Lexus that Mr Nasralla was driving turned over and struck a pole, splitting the vehicle in half.

"He was a very good brother, a very good friend," said Mr Nasralla's younger brother, Ayhem. "He was very popular, and everyone loved him."

The eldest son in a family of five, Mr Nasralla was described by family and friends as outgoing and funny, someone who lived to cheer up his friends and loved cars and football.

"He always asked about me, even when I didn't ask about him," Ms Awada said.

Mr Nasralla was buried on Saturday, and hundreds gathered to pay their respects at several memorial services over the last several days.

"This is a tragedy," said Ghazi Abuhasneh, Mr Nasralla's uncle. "Osama was very smart, very polite and very decent. Please pray for Osama."

Ms Nasralla is the third Petroleum Institute student killed in a road accident this term. Yesterday, a road safety awareness campaign on Twitter in which Mr Nasralla's friends participated became the top trending topic on the social- media site.

Using the hashtag DangerDriving, UAE residents offered up advice for safe driving and encouraged one another to spread the word about the hazards of distracted or reckless driving.

"When you have so many people killed in one term because of driving accidents, that's just insane," said Alwaleed Osman, a classmate at the institute who promoted the campaign.

"Osama was a very young guy and everyone loved him. But he died of a driving accident, too, and we need to raise awareness about these issues."

Abdulilah Zineddin, a road safety expert in the capital, said any effort to increase education on road safety in the UAE were welcomed, but "these campaigns need to be combined with enforcement".

"There is a culture of speeding, and this is something that should be monitored from an early age," Mr Zineddin said.

"Cars can basically be a killing machine, and we need to start changing the culture by talking to children as young as we can."

Even on internal roads, speed should be monitored and violators should face penalties, Mr Zineddin said.

"If you know you won't be apprehended, then you will speed," he said.

Mr Nasralla's family and friends said they were glad to see something positive come from the tragedy.

"I have seen accidents with my own eyes," said Ralph Samaha, 19, a classmate of Mr Nasralla.

"I want to tell other students that it is not just sad when it is our friends. This happens and we should be more aware."

Mr Abuhasneh said he wanted some benefit to come from his nephew's death

"Pass on this message," he said. "To everybody, especially the young people, we are talking about cars. They are fun, but they can also be killers. We all have to be careful."