Afghan Engineer Moves Family To US To Escape Islamic State Group Only To Be Fatally Hit While Cycling

| by Mackenzie Fleming

A man who risked his life working in northern Afghanistan on U.S. military projects was killed on July 12, after recently moving to what he believed would be a safer home for him and his family in Sacramento County, California.

On Sunday morning, 33-year-old Mustafa Rafi and his 8-year-old Omar son were hit by a distracted driver while biking to pick up breakfast. Rafi, who worked overseas as an electrical engineer, was killed as a result. His young son suffered life-threatening injuries and is now "clinging to life," CBS Sacramento reported. 

The family had moved to the U.S. a week ago to escape feared Islamic State group retaliation.

“This is why this is so sad that this happened to him and his family,” Haroon Paikan, a friend and colleague, told The Sacramento Bee. “They came here for a new life. But the security situation in Afghanistan didn’t kill him. An accident here did.”

Paikan, who worked with him in Afghanistan, said Rafi moved his family because he was afraid that his work for U.S. forces put him in danger. Paikan added that his friend had applied for a special visa two years ago, fearing his work would get him killed by Taliban forces. Rafi worked on projects for the Army Corps of Engineers in the provinces of Balkh and Kunduz, reports The Sacramento Bee.

The father and son were hit when a driver swerved into the bike line where they were riding in front of their apartment complex. The driver was suspected of texting while driving, according to investigators who spoke with CBS.

California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Officer Jenna Berry said the 25-year-old driver was looking at a cellphone when his car drifted into the bike lane and that drugs and alcohol were not a factor. The driver has been identified as Desmen Lashonne Carrino of Sacramento. 

Witnesses said a second son of Rafi’s was also with him and Omar at the time they were hit. He was reportedly walking on the sidewalk nearby and was not harmed in the accident.  

Following the collision, Rafi was transported to Mercy San Juan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Omar was taken to UC Davis Medical Center, The Sacramento Bee reported. He was listed in critical condition on July 12.

California Highway Patrol said the investigation is ongoing and could result in charges, according to CBS.

Source: CBS Sacramento, The Sacramento Bee / Photo credit: Screenshot via The Sacramento Bee, r. nial bradshaw/Flickr