Mother of 3, who fled Afghanistan, was one of 2 women killed in northeast Charlotte crash

CHARLOTTE — A mother of three children, who fled Afghanistan, was one of two women killed while walking on a sidewalk in northeast Charlotte, Channel 9 has learned. The driver accused of causing the crash was speeding and impaired at the time, according to officers.

The collision happened before 3 p.m. Tuesday on East W.T. Harris Boulevard at Duncroft Lane, near The Plaza.

Channel 9′s Tina Terry learned 23-year-old Nabila Rasoul was walking with 75-year-old Enedina Fernandez when they were hit.

[LINK: GoFundMe for Nabila]

Rasoul was an Afghan refugee who had been in the United States for three months. According to Terry, Fernandez was from a local church, helping Rasoul to find resources and learn to speak English.

A family member said Rasoul lived in a nearby neighborhood with her 5-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter and a 3-month-old.

“She came from Afghanistan as a refugee and she was going to start a new life,” said Rasoul’s uncle, Mohamad Fahim Amiri. “She was so excited, so happy. And now three kids left behind.”

Amiri told Terri that he came to the crash scene Wednesday to remember his niece, who had just turned 23 years old.

“I can come here and it will remind me of her,” Amiri said.

Statement from Gerry Carter, Executive Director and CEO of Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, who said Fernandez was known for giving in many way:

“We are heartbroken over the loss of Dina Fernandez and Nabila Rasoul, who were out for a walk after working together on an English lesson Tuesday afternoon. Dina was a passionate volunteer who stepped up to help Catholic Charities in its efforts to resettle Afghan evacuees into our community, and Nabila and her family were recent arrivals. Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Charlotte are reaching out to both families to assist in any way we can, and we hope everyone in the Charlotte community will join us in praying for the families, that they may find strength and support to sustain them in their grief over the sudden, tragic loss of their loved ones.”

On Tuesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they were called for a two-car crash involving two women who had also been hit by one of the cars. When they arrived, they found a 2019 Dodge Ram pickup truck and a 2008 Honda Civic. Both were severely damaged.

Investigators said the Civic’s driver, 21-year-old James Payne, was speeding on East W.T. Harris Boulevard. He failed to stay in his lane and hit the back of the Dodge, officers said. The truck then hit the curb and began to flip along the sidewalk where the two women were walking, according to police.

The truck hit the women, and officers said the Civic continued skidding until it stopped on East W.T. Harris Boulevard. Police said Payne parked the car in a parking lot afterward.

“There’s two factors that caused this accident,” CMPD told Channel 9′s Tina Terry. “One was a high rate of speed … and the other one was alcohol.”

Payne and the driver of the pickup truck were not hurt in the crash and remained at the scene. Police said Fernandez died at the scene, and Rasoul was rushed to the hospital, where she later died.

Initially, paramedics told Channel 9 that one person had died and five others were hurt in the crash. One of the five hurt had life-threatening injuries and was taken to the hospital, and the other four were treated at the scene, they said Tuesday.

Police said Payne had a passenger who is a minor in the car with him who was uninjured.

An officer found Payne to be impaired after screening him, and investigators said -- along with speed -- impairment was a factor for him in the crash. Neither speed nor alcohol were factors for the pickup truck driver, and impairment wasn’t suspected for either woman on the sidewalk.

CMPD charged Payne with two counts of felony death by motor vehicle, DWI, reckless driving, and misdemeanor child abuse. He was also charged for having an open container of an alcoholic drink in a motor vehicle, along with several other traffic offenses, police said.

Payne was granted a secured bond, and was released on bail Thursday from the Mecklenburg County Jail.

“It’s sad that these circumstances happen when people are not responsible enough to not drink and drive,” CMPD said.

Court documents show that Payne had two pending traffic violation charges from last year -- aspeeding charge from last March and a failure to yield charge from July. He was supposed to appear in court on those charges this spring.

Several lanes of traffic were blocked while police investigated and Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew overhead.

Police are still investigating the crash and asked anyone who witnessed it or has information about the case to call Detective Buckley at 704-432-2169, extension 6. Information can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or by clicking here.

No further information has been released.

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