Linda Khayya, 47, had immigrated from her native Iraq to the United States just a few years ago, but she died close to her home in Sterling Heights, Michigan, after falling victim to a hit-and-run driver.
On Aug. 31, Khayya was out pushing her disabled 15-year-old son Randee in his wheelchair when Xhuljan Gjinaj, 22, allegedly hit her with his car, ClickOnDetroit reported. Authorities said they believe Gjinaj was high on drugs at the time, although it’s unclear what substances he might have been using.
Gjinaj was arraigned on Sept. 2 on charges of operating while intoxicated causing death, operating while intoxicated causing serious injury, driving on a suspended license, and leaving the scene of an injury accident.
Randee was injured and is still recovering from a broken pelvis.
“The person didn't even have the decency to stop and see if they were okay,” Khayya’s niece, Christine Istefan, told Fox 2 Detroit.
"She was very happy to be here, she finally made it here among her brothers and sisters and cousins and stuff like that," Istefan added. "To lose her at the age of 47 to a tragedy like this that could have been prevented, it's heartbreaking."
The victim’s family said Randee is both mentally and physically disabled and that he often cries for his mother.
"He keeps calling mom, of course mom is his only word because she's the only one," Istefan said. "I don't think he can comprehend the fact that she's gone. I don't think he'll ever comprehend that.
"She didn't give up on him. She never gave up on him. She took care of him no matter what."
Gjinaj is being held on $75,000 bond, and he is due back in court on Sept. 14.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Khayya's family pay for funeral expenses.
Photo Credit: GoFundMe, Fox2Detroit