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All three victims swept away into Milwaukee drainage ditch laid to rest

"It's like a nightmare we haven't woken up from."
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Posted at 6:39 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 23:14:01-04

MILWAUKEE — The young boy and two adults that were swept away into a drainage ditch Monday evening were laid to rest.

Several blocks surrounding the Islamic Society of Milwaukee (ISM) on 13th and Layton was packed Friday afternoon with people who were paying their respects.

The crowds only got bigger as the bodies were taken from ISM to the Arlington Cemetery for the burial of 10-year-old Muhammad Arman, his father Rashidullah Bin Abdul Hashim and neighbor Zakaria Bin Gonumeah.

Rabiah Abdulkarim and her cousin Bibiayesha Abdulshukur eyes watered when they spoke about their uncle Zakaria Gonumeah.

"It's like a nightmare we haven't woken up from. It still feels unreal to us," Abdulkarim said.

"We are sad, upset, we're feeling everything," Abdulshukur added.

The cousins say their uncle left Malaysia to give his family a better life. They say it didn't shock them when they found out he risked his life to save his friend and neighbor.

"I'm proud of him as my uncle, because he tried," Abdulshukur said.

According to a report from the medical examiner, Rashidullah chased a soccer ball into the drainage ravine. His dad, Rashidullah Bin Abdul Hashim, saw him struggling to get out and ran to the ravine, got in, and gave his son a bear hug.

That's when the boy's neighbor, Zakaria Bin Gonumeah, saw the two struggling to get out and attempted to make a human chain to bring them back to shore. He was then swept into the current as well.

The three did not come back out. First responders were called and officials began their search.

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On Tuesday, Fire Chief Aaron Lipski confirmed first responders found Rashidullah's body near 16th and Cleveland, nearly two miles from where he first fell. However, there was no sign of the two men.

Officials continued their search until storms came into the area Wednesday night, forcing them to stop for the day.

The recovery efforts resumed Thursday morning and shortly before 9 a.m., reports came in of a body being found in the river. TMJ4 News reached out to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office who said they were called to the scene.

Then, shortly before noon, officials responded to a second location near the Kinnickinnic River for another body in the water.

The ME confirmed two bodies were recovered, belonging to the two men officials had been searching for.

According to an investigation report from the medical examiner, Gonumeah was found near 1st and Becher, while Rashidullah was found outside of Barnacle Bud's Restaurant. Someone walking by spotted the body and informed an employee at Barnacle Buds. That employee called 911.

Both men were around four miles away from where they initially entered the water.

After a tragic ending to a horrific accident, all three were laid to rest side by side in one grave.

"Arman is an angel. The lifesavers are next to him," Abdulshukur said. "It's a nice thing to see."

Both girls say reality is setting in that they will never see their uncle again. They say they're turning to their faith to get them through the dark times that lie ahead.

"We prayed, that's the best thing we can do," Abdulshukur stated.

A GoFundMe has been created to help support the families of the victims. To donate, click here.

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