“I started praying when everyone around me was screaming,” she said. “My immediate response, I'm like, ‘Why would God do that to us? No, He can't take our kids. He wouldn’t do that to us.’”
They later found out more about the tragic accident. A 30-year-old under the influence of alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs lost control of his car. He drove over the sidewalk at a high speed and hit their children.
“Sometimes you see those movies where your body comes out and you look back into the, over like a top view, of what's happening. That's how it felt,” Danny described. “I was in shock and then I just started to fix what I could.”
He grabbed Liana who was conscious, he said. Still, “I felt in my heart that I'd lost my kids that day.”
Arriving at the hospital, four priests met with Danny and Leila and broke the news to them: 13-year-old Antony, Angelina (12), Sienna (9), and their niece, Veronique (11), did not survive.
“I was screaming, I'm like no, no, they didn't die,” Leila recalled.
Despite their tremendous suffering and pain, the Abdallahs did not hate the driver, who was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
“I feel sorry for him,” Danny said. “I pray for him. The devil used him as a puppet.”
In a move that shocked the news media, Leila publicly forgave him.
“Forgiveness is something you practice, is something you practice all your life. Then eventually you can forgive on a bigger scale,” she explained. “And you forgive not because the others deserve to be forgiven. It's because you deserve to be at peace.”
Her faith, she said, inspired her.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“If Jesus can forgive me, then of course I can forgive the driver,” she stressed. “If He died on the cross for me, then of course I can pray for that driver. Our Christianity, our faith got me to forgive him.”
She offered a special message to viewers of EWTN News In Depth.
“Remember that if Jesus carried his cross, we are meant to carry our cross and follow Him,” the mother concluded. “And on this earth while we're living, enjoy every moment, hug your family tight, kiss your kids, don't take anything for granted, because anything can change in the blink of an eye.”