Dad of Drowned Toddler Was Driving Boat, Say Refugees

That puts his account of what happened in dispute
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2015 1:26 PM CDT

(Newser) – A messy coda to the story of the drowned Syrian toddler who washed ashore while trying to reach Greece with his family. Other passengers aboard the boat are questioning the account given by the boy's father, Abdullah Kurdi, about the ship's sinking, reports Reuters. Three people—including an Iraqi couple whose two children drowned—tell the news service that Kurdi himself was driving the boat and not, as he has said, a Turkish smuggler. The Iraqis say that Kurdi seemed to panic and accelerate when a wave hit the boat, having been distracted by one of his crying sons, reports the Wall Street Journal. He then later begged them to conceal his role in the sinking from Turkish authorities, they say.

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"I don't know what made him lie, maybe fear," says Ahmed Hadi Jawwad. "He was the driver from the very beginning until the boat sank." If Kurdi were driving, the implication is that he was working with smugglers or perhaps one himself. He continues denying being the driver or a smuggler, and says the Turkish man driving the boat jumped into the water as flimsy vessel capsized. Kurdi's wife and other son also drowned. “I lost my family, I lost my life, I lost everything, so let them say whatever they want,” he tells the Journal. (Read more Syrian refugees stories.)

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