// Submerged car's victims identified
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« on: Jul 03, 2009 11:57 PM »


KINGSTON, Ont. - Mamie Allen walked steadily across a beam above the Kingston Mills Locks on Thursday to lay a handful of pink roses picked from her garden at a memorial honouring four Montreal residents who died there in a car crash days earlier.

"I just wanted to lay a little bit of flowers, but I didn't know where to put them ... I didn't know if I was allowed," she said as she bent down in the rain to add her bouquet to a growing shrine.

Allen and other area residents are still puzzled by the circumstances of the crash that killed three teen sisters and an older female relative, and the lack of details continued to frustrate police.

Sisters Geeti, 13, Sahar, 17, and Zainab Shafia, 19, and their relative Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, all from the neighbourhood of St-Leonard, were identified as the crash victims, police revealed late Thursday.

Police haven't said how Mohammed was related to the teens.

Investigators are baffled by how their car left the roadway and ended up underwater and hope that autopsies, scheduled for Thursday in Ottawa, will shed some light, said Kingston police Const. Michael Menor.

"We're waiting with bated breath here," Menor said, adding it could be weeks before the autopsy results are released.

The bodies were found inside a vehicle that was submerged in the northernmost lock at Kingston Mills, northeast of Kingston.

Police are trying to determine why the car, described by witnesses as a newer-model black Nissan sedan, left the road, drove down a patch of grass - either over a concrete barrier or through a gate - and through two of the poles on the dock.

"The awkward part is that where the vehicle was found ... is not a normal place where you would drive," Menor said. "It's just not normal."

There were no obvious tire tracks to indicate what happened, and the deaths are being treated as suspicious until the investigation proves otherwise, he said.

Montreal police said Thursday they received a request from Kingston police to locate a second vehicle in St-Leonard.

Spokesman Daniel Lacoursiere would not say whether officers had found the vehicle. He also wouldn't confirm reports that the second vehicle may have been seen with one of the victims in Kingston.

But Menor stressed that despite reports, police are not looking for a second car. He said investigators are searching in the Montreal area, but not for another vehicle.

Police said they have narrowed down the time the crash likely occurred on the poorly lit, curving roadway to between midnight and 8 a.m. They hope someone will recall seeing the black sedan during that time.

"It was there for a reason, it didn't drop out of the sky," Menor said. "It got there somehow. It's frustrating."

The locks were shut for the day Tuesday as police crews worked to pull the car and bodies from the three-metre-deep water.

Police have few leads in the case, and no witnesses have come forward.

The four victims had been on vacation in southern Ontario and were on their way back to Quebec, said police in Kingston, about 260 kilometres east of Toronto.

Parks Canada employee John Bruce was the first person to notice the submerged car in the locks Tuesday morning.

Several neighbours with houses overlooking a lake near where the car was found said they didn't see or hear anything strange until investigators started gathering at the scene Tuesday morning.

The owner of a houseboat docked about 20 metres from the crash site said when he woke that morning he didn't notice anything unusual.

Investigators are not considering the possibility that the car entered the water from another location and was carried to the lock by a current, Menor said.

As part of the probe, police have turned over the car to mechanics to determine whether there was a breakdown, or if other forensic evidence can be found that might help investigators discover what happened.

"We can't imagine the pain ... it's beyond heart-breaking," Menor said. "I just wish we could go back in time and change things. ... These were three beautiful sisters."
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 04, 2009 12:01 AM »

Family mourns sunken car victims

A Montreal family was struggling to deal with its grief on Friday after four family members were found dead in a car in a Rideau Canal lock in Kingston, Ont.

“I cannot talk, I'm so sorry, I cannot talk,” cried Tooba Mohammad Yehya, mother of the three teenage sisters who were found dead in the canal.

Mohammad Yehya confirmed the girls were three of seven siblings in the family. The girls are survived by two sisters and two brothers.

Mohammad Yehya explained that the family stopped in Kingston on the way back from a trip to Niagara Falls in two separate cars.

She said her 19-year-old daughter, Zainab Shafia, got the keys to one of the cars, saying she wanted to get some clothes from the vehicle. Mohammed Yehya admitted her daughter was not an experienced driver, having driven only on a few occasions.

After Shafia took the keys, Mohammed Yehya said she doesn't know what happened. Sometime during their overnight stay, she said one of the family's two cars disappeared.

The girls’ father, Mohammad Shafi, confirmed on Friday the four women who died were all staying in the same hotel room in Kingston. Five other family members, including Shafi and his wife were staying in a separate room.

Shafi said it was police who broke the news to him Tuesday morning that his daughters and 50-year-old cousin had been found in a sunken car in the Rideau Canal. Shafi said he went down to see the area with his own eyes but could not piece together how it happened, although he did say the girls had “no idea how to drive.”

“One family, four people died.... no good,” Shafi said in broken English from his home in Saint-Léonard. He said he spoke to Kingston police on Friday but still had no idea when the women’s bodies would be returned to the family.

Saif Fazel, a cousin of the three teenaged girls, said the entire family is in shock. He said he has hardly slept since hearing about the incident from the girls' mother.

Fazel said the family has dozens of relatives in Quebec, all of them immigrants from Afghanistan. He said the irony of the girls' deaths is hard to deal with.

"What we did, what we went through …to save our lives, you know? From the Russians, from all those events in Afghanistan, and all of a sudden you know, we're in Canada … we said okay, we are safe finally. And there you go … we lost three members of our family in an accident," said Fazel.

Fazel said his young cousins were very caring toward their parents and at least one girl planned to become a doctor. Now Fazel said the big question for the family is how the car ended up in the water.

Kingston Police Const. Michael Menor said investigators are treating the case as suspicious, until they know more. He said they are trying to figure out who was driving.

“That's all part of the investigation and I know the detectives are keeping a lot of that information close to their chests,” said Menor.

Autopsies are being performed on sisters Zainab, Geeti, 13, and Sahar Shafia, 17, and relative Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, who also died in the accident. The woman was a cousin of the girls' father.

All were from the Montreal neighbourhood of Saint-Léonard. Investigators are baffled by how their car left the roadway and ended up underwater.

Police check surveillance videos for clues
Kingston Police were checking surveillance video on Friday from two nearby gas stations to see if it can provide any clues as to how the car made it past several barriers and ended up submerged in the lock.

Cynthia Waran, who owns Code's Corners convenience store near the Kingston Mills lock where the car was found Tuesday, said police came on Friday to look at footage from the past week. She said the officers left without saying anything. Waran said she didn't see anyone matching the description of the car's passengers earlier this week.

Sumit Kumar, who runs the Stop and Save across the road, said police were at his store on Tuesday and again on Friday to go through his digital surveillance.

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« Reply #2 on: Jul 06, 2009 07:13 PM »

Sad story indeed -

there's rumour that the 19 year old girl was driving the car (unlicensed) - if this is true, it will cause a lot of headache for the family.

I hope Allah (swt) grants their family peace and patience during the difficult time.


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« Reply #3 on: Jul 12, 2009 04:56 PM »

ws,

horrifying. did anyone hear of what actually happened. the whole story sounds so strange.  i know there was a similar story in Indiana or the midwest somewhere and it was a mother and her kids late at night Sad Sad subhanAllah may Allah give the father patience and jannah and reunite him with his family.
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« Reply #4 on: Jul 13, 2009 09:45 PM »

ws,

horrifying. did anyone hear of what actually happened. the whole story sounds so strange.  i know there was a similar story in Indiana or the midwest somewhere and it was a mother and her kids late at night Sad Sad subhanAllah may Allah give the father patience and jannah and reunite him with his family.

No new news yet Sad


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« Reply #5 on: Jul 14, 2009 09:48 PM »

This story is getting weird by the day...  Shocked


http://www.thewhig.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1641389

Investigators mapping scene in search for answers
Posted By ROB TRIPP
 

Investigators seeking to explain the perplexing deaths of four women found in a submerged car are mapping the baffling scene.

Yesterday, a two-man survey crew was at Kingston Mills, plotting the terrain around the lock where the car was found.

The City of Kingston workers mapped all of the property extending from Kingston Mills Road north, beyond and around the northernmost lock.

A black Nissan Sentra was found Tuesday in roughly three metres of water, its nose facing the east stone wall, near the mammoth wood door of the lock. Three teenage girls and their aunt, all from Montreal, were found dead inside the car.

The mapping is being done at the request of Kingston Police, said Dr. Roger Skinner, the regional coroner who is investigating the deaths in tandem with police.

"I haven't spoken to (police) about that particular activity but (it's) similar to, say, motor vehicle accidents, where you have reconstruction specialists who map out distances and markings and so on to try to get an explanation for what happened," Skinner told theWhig-Standardyesterday.

The small tract of land around the lock is a patchwork of changing elevation, stonework, retaining walls and rocky outcrops. The surveyors marked and noted elevations of major obstacles and objects.

Investigators are trying to determine the path the car followed to get into the water.

Skinner said post mortems on all four victims were completed Thursday.

"That's sort of the anatomical component, you know the actual dissection and examination of the body, but in these situations there is ancillary testing to do and that can take weeks to months to get that all back," he said.

He would not provide any information about what was learned from the autopsies.

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Kingston Police have said the deaths are "suspicious" but they have not uncovered evidence of foul play.

The probe has been classed as a coroner's case. Skinner would not say how the decision was reached.

"In cases where it does not appear to be a criminally suspicious case, then generally the coroner will take the lead," Skinner said.

"This is one of those cases where probably we're still working in parallel because we haven't yet fully investigated the deaths and as the police have described it ... there are some issues that haven't been fully explained."

Skinner said he is in close contact with police.

He described the investigation as unusual because there are four deaths.

"It is a very complicated scenario right from the start," he said.

As the surveyors worked at Kingston Mills yesterday, a parade of curious and compassionate onlookers visit the property, speculating how a car could possibly have dropped into the water at that point, without leaving telltale marks and damage.

"Where's the barge that dropped it off?" Kingstonian Dexter Dafoe wondered, half seriously, while he stood near the flower-strewn ledge.

Dafoe was berry picking in the area and decided to get his own first hand look at the mystery.

"That's a real corker, to get that car through there without hitting anything," he said, looking at the stone ledge around the lock and the surrounding property.

A steel gate that would provide easy car access to the spot is locked and undamaged. A terraced stone flower bed is undisturbed.

"There's no damage up there by the road," Dafoe said, echoing what many observers have noted -- the absence of evidence to explain how a car, manoeuvring in a poorly lit area in the dead of night -- could possibly drive off the edge into the water.

The car first had to drive up a narrow, grassy slope between a rock outcrop and a stone wall and make a near hairpin turn to get to the stone ledge.

Then it had to pass between a steel apparatus, a wheel that an operator turns to allow water to flow into the lock, and the edge of the lock doors.

None of the mechanisms have any damage or shows signs of even having been nicked by a passing car.

More puzzling is the theory that the car entered the water backwards, if it entered at this point, because it was found with its front end butted against the stone wall.

That speculation seems more troublesome given the claim by the family of the dead girls that the calamity must be a driving accident, caused when one of the teenage girls, an unlicensed driver, got behind the wheel.

Article ID# 1641389

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« Reply #6 on: Jul 22, 2009 10:42 PM »

Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God - it wasn't an accident!!

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2009/07/22/ottawa-kingston-death-montreal-car-water.html

Arrests made in Kingston canal deaths

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 | 5:32 PM ET Comments10Recommend36CBC News

Flowers sit near the Kingston Mills locks on the Rideau Canal where four Montrealers died on June 30. (Sunny Freeman/Canadian Press)
 
Police have made arrests in connection with the mysterious deaths of three Montreal sisters and a female relative, whose car was found submerged in water near a Rideau Canal lock in Kingston, Ont., CBC News has learned.

Police said Wednesday they will make a further announcement about the case at 2 p.m. ET Thursday at Kingston police headquarters. No further details have been released.

Tooba Mohammed Yehya weeps as she and her husband, Mohammed Shafee, speak to reporters on July 3 at their home in Montreal about the loss of their children. (Peter McCabe/Canadian Press)
Zainab Shafia, 19, Sahar Shafia, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, were found in the car with their relative, Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, when the vehicle was discovered under water around 4 p.m. on June 30.

All four were from St-Leonard, Que., and had been reported missing by relatives.

Tooba Mohammed Yehya, the mother of the three teenage sisters — along with four other children — said the family had stopped in Kingston on their way back from Niagara Falls, driving in two cars.

Mohammed Yehya said Zainab Shafia had taken the keys to one of the cars, saying she wanted to get some clothes from the vehicle.

After Shafia took the keys, Mohammed Yehya said she didn't know what happened except that one of the family's cars was taken out overnight.

She said Shafia had driven a few times, but was not an experienced driver.


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« Reply #7 on: Jul 22, 2009 11:24 PM »

ws,

That's horrible... I hope it wasn't like an accident with someone who was drunk or something and drove off... or worse if they arrest one of the parents for "negligence" or something ridiculous. what a horrible tragecy...
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« Reply #8 on: Jul 23, 2009 02:14 PM »

http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/670481

3 held in canal drownings
 
MONTREAL–The tale of three Montreal sisters and their aunt who were found dead in their car in the Rideau Canal in Kingston has taken a dramatic turn with the arrest of three family members, who may have been trying to flee the country.

Kingston police have scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. today where Police Chief Stephen Tanner will outline the details of a major change in focus of the investigation. Up to now, police have only gone so far as to call the deaths "suspicious."

The three suspects, believed to be the sisters' father, Mohammed Shafi, his wife, and his 18-year-old son, were apprehended yesterday morning while heading to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, possibly to flee the country, La Presse newspaper reported, citing unnamed police sources. They were taken to Kingston.

The Shafi sisters – Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17 and Geeti, 13 – died along with their aunt, Rona Amir Mohammed, on June 30. The family was returning from a trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto when they stopped for the night at a motel in Kingston.

The car was found that morning, submerged in the Rideau Canal, the bodies of the victims inside.

Officially, Kingston police would only say yesterday there had been a "change in the status" of the investigation based on "what's happened in the last 24 hours."

"It was a suspicious death and that has been changed," said Kingston police spokesman Const. Mike Menor. "We're not saying what that is."

Neighbours of the Shafi family in the Montreal borough of Saint-Léonard told the Star police were at the family's home last night for at least three hours. Earlier this month, the supervising regional coroner, Dr. Roger Skinner, told the Star preliminary autopsy results were communicated to the family verbally. However, the family repeatedly denied having received any such results from the coroner.

The family hails from Kabul, Afghanistan, but spent 15 years in Dubai before moving to Montreal two years ago.

The father, Mohammed, is a businessman dealing in electronics. He also owns a Laval shopping centre. A relative called him "wealthy."

Shortly after the deaths, distraught family members speculated that one of the older sisters, likely Zainab, might have taken the car out to practise driving.

Mohammed Shafi said the family was travelling in two cars and arrived in Kingston at 1:30 a.m. June 30.

Shortly after, Zainab came to get the car keys from her mother, Tooba Mohammad Yhaya, apparently to retrieve clothes from the car.

At 7:30 a.m., Shafi woke up and looked out the motel window, and the car was gone, he said. The police told him of the car's whereabouts later that morning.

However, the circumstances were always uncertain.

The car, a Nissan Sentra, would have had to traverse numerous obstacles, including a locked gate and stone moorings, to make it into the water, yet there were no skid marks, witnesses said

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« Reply #9 on: Jul 23, 2009 04:22 PM »

Family held in canal deaths
 TheStar.com - Ontario - Family held in canal deaths
 
 
SUNNY FREEMAN/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Flowers sit near the Kingston Mills locks on the Rideau Canal where a car containing the bodies of four Montreal residents was found July 2, 2009. (July 22) July 23, 2009
Andrew Chung
QUEBEC BUREAU CHIEF

MONTREAL–Police are investigating the death of three sisters found in their car at the bottom of the Rideau Canal in Kingston three weeks ago as a possible "honour" killing.

Three suspects arrested Wednesday in Montreal on their way to the airport, possibly to flee the country, are believed to the sisters' father, Mohammed Shafi, his wife, and his 18-year-old son, the La Presse newspaper reported.

Kingston police have scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. where Police Chief Stephen Tanner will outline the details of a major change in focus of the investigation. Up to now, police have only gone so far as to call the deaths "suspicious."

The Shafi sisters – Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17 and Geeti, 13 – died along with their aunt, Rona Amir Mohammed, on June 30. The family was returning from a trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto when they stopped for the night at a motel in Kingston.

The car was found that morning, submerged in the Rideau Canal, the bodies of the victims inside.

Officially, Kingston police would only say yesterday there had been a "change in the status" of the investigation based on "what's happened in the last 24 hours."

"It was a suspicious death and that has been changed," said Kingston police spokesman Const. Mike Menor. "We're not saying what that is."

However, Kingston Police have been investigating for the last two weeks the allegation the deaths were an honour killing, police sources told the Kingston Whig Standard.

The family is Muslim and hails from Kabul, Afghanistan. They lived in Dubai for 15 years before arriving in Canada two years ago.

Kingston Police apparently received information that Rona Amir Mohammed is actually the first wife of Mohammed Shafi, that the couple had married in Kabul 30 years ago, and the marriage had been kept secret since their arrival in Canada.

The information came from Rona Amir Mohammed's sister, Diba Masoomi, who lives in France. Masoomi also sent along a photo, claiming it is of the of the couple at their wedding. "We are convinced that this is a crime of honour," Masoomi wrote in an email sent to the police chief's office roughly two weeks ago.

Masoomi said her sister feared for her life. "For some time, my sister, as well as the Shafi couple's oldest daughter, Zainab, had been receiving death threats for social, cultural and family reasons," she wrote.

In the days following the deaths, Shafi, 57, told reporters the dthat Rona Amir Mohammed was his cousin, and she was always described as the children's aunt. Tooba Mohammad Yhaya, 37, introduced herself as Shafi's wife.

Family members speculated to reporters that one of the older sisters, likely Zainab, might have taken the car out to practise driving. They said she was rebellious and had taken the car in the past. However, the circumstances were always uncertain, particularly how the car made it all the way to the water.

The Shafis are not conservative Muslims, a Montreal relative of Yhaya, Said Fazel, told the Star.

The teenage girls dressed in a modern fashion, though reservedly, and did not even wear headscarves, said neighbour Joyce Gilbert, who lives below the family. She described them as "angels."

At the time, the couple shed tears in front of news cameras and Shafi said he hadn't slept or eaten for days and appeared grief-stricken as he flipped through a family photo album. He is a businessman dealing in electronics. A relative described him as "wealthy."

One relative said that during the funeral about a week after the incident, during which the father, Mohammed, was overcome and fell down. An ambulance was called, said Zarmina Fazel, a relative of Yhaya. "Mr. Shafi has lost his mind," Fazel said in a recent interview. "They are all in big shock. It's 24-hours-a-day sleeping. Nobody talks, like a coma."

There was also a Muslim prayer vigil for the dead women, attended by friends and relatives, which number about 30 in the Montreal area. That was the last time most relatives talked to the Shafi family.

Neighbours of the Shafi family in the Montreal borough of Saint-Léonard told the Star police were at the family's home last night for at least three hours. Other neighbours reportedly saw the parents' four other children taken away in an unmarked car.

Earlier this month, the supervising regional coroner, Dr. Roger Skinner, told the Star preliminary autopsy results were communicated to the family verbally. However, the family repeatedly denied having received any such results from the coroner.

Masoomi told the Kingston newspaper that Rona Amir Mohammed could not have children, and so Shafi took a second wife, a practice not uncommon in Afghani culture. Masoomi said her sister remained with the family and raised the children, even when they moved to Dubai.

After the incident, Shafi and his sons said the family was travelling in two cars and arrived in Kingston at 1:30 a.m. June 30. Shortly after, Zainab came to get the car keys from Yhaya, apparently to retrieve clothes from the car. At 7:30 a.m., Shafi woke up and looked out the motel window, and the car was gone, he explained. The police told him of the car's whereabouts later that morning.

The tragedy was puzzling for police. The car, a Nissan Sentra, would have had to traverse numerous obstacles, including a locked gate and stone moorings, to make it into the water. However, witnesses said there were no skid marks.

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« Reply #10 on: Jul 23, 2009 06:29 PM »

Wow.

I had a feeling something ugly would come of this. The police don't usually wait two days to have a "press conference" when they have suspects. I'm sure that in a few hours every paper in Canada will be calling it an honor killing! Poor people, I don't for a minute believe they are guilty in any way. I'm sure they wanted to leave their sadness and bad memories behind by going back to their country and now they will not only have to deal with their unbearable loss but fighting off accusations and murder charges!!
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