Community prays for crash victim

TWISTED METAL: A car involved in a crash with a train near Te Horo.
TWISTED METAL: A car involved in a crash with a train near Te Horo.

Wellington Muslims are praying for the recovery of Adam Awad, a Somali community leader who remains in a serious condition after his car was hit by a freight train on a private rail crossing in Te Horo.

Family spokesman Ismail Ibrahim said they hoped Awad, who has a wife, four children and an elderly mother-in-law, would survive and that the crossing's safety would be improved.

His car was hit by a northbound freight train about 1.50pm on Tuesday. He was flown to Wellington Hospital in a critical condition with head and arm injuries.

He had surgery on Wednesday and remains in intensive care in an induced coma. His condition is described as serious.

Awad, believed to be in his late 40s, fled Somaliland and spent 17 years in refugee camps in northern Africa.

He gained a business degree in Sudan before arriving in New Zealand and becoming a key figure in establishing support organisations for refugees regionally and nationally.

He has been executive director of Wellington's Changemakers Refugee Forum, and secretary of the National Refugee Network.

In 2007 he was honoured with a community services medal in the Wellingtonian of the Year Awards.

Islamic Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand president Anwar Ghani said the organisation was very sad about what had happened to their colleague.

''We are praying for his swift and full recovery and are working to do whatever we can to help his family.''

Police said yesterday that the train was travelling about 65kmh and the driver used the emergency brake as soon as he saw Awad's car.

The car was shunted about 15 metres before being forced off the tracks. The train driver was shocked but unhurt.

The Dominion Post