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N.Y. Islamic community mourns after 5 victims of same family killed in crash

Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Pennsylvania State Police identified five women -- all members of the same family -- who died when they were struck by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

The five women were traveling in two vehicles traveling through Lackawanna County as they returned from an overseas trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

All five were members of the same family and belonged to the Islamic Organization of Southern Tier, a New York-based non-profit serving the Islamic community in the Binghamton area.

"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we announce that five members of our community passed away last night in a tragic car accident. They were returning from Umrah and were on their way back home from the airport to their families. They were all integral and beloved members of our community, and some were mothers with young children," the group posted on its Facebook page.

The five victims were identified by Pennsylvania State Police as:

  • Aleen Ameen, 19, of Johnson City, N.Y.

  • Berivan Zebari, 43, of Johnson City, N.Y.

  • Fatima Ahmed, 71, of Binghamton, N.Y.

  • Havrist Zebari, 42, of Endwell, N.Y.

  • Shahzinaz Mizouri, 56, of Vestal, N.Y.

The IOST lists Fatima Ahmed's last name as "Mayi" instead of Ahmed.

Pennsylvania State Police said four of the women were traveling in a 2022 Honda Odyssey minivan at about 5:14 p.m. Tuesday when it spun out of control in wintry weather and struck a median near mile marker 199.

Three women exited the minivan while two other family members stayed in the vehicle, which remained in the interstate's left lane.

Two other family members were following in an Audi A6. One exited the car after it stopped on the right shoulder and crossed the interstate to meet with the other women in the left lane.

Soon after, a northbound tractor-trailer struck the disabled minivan on its driver side, which killed the four women in the road and one of the two passengers inside the minivan. Police told local media the driver of the tractor-trailer and the driver of the Audi A6 suffered minor injuries.

A statewide weather advisory was in effect in Pennsylvania when the incident occurred. The state received several inches of snow.

The accident closed northbound I-81 until about 9 p.m. while police investigated and coroners tended to the victims.