He guarded a US official in Afghanistan. A Dallas car crash left his family bereft, seeking answers
Abdul Wahab Baktash and his family fled Afghanistan three years ago after the U.S. military pulled out. As a bodyguard for a U.S. ambassador, his job could be dangerous.
But Baktash’s family never imagined working in Texas would prove deadly. In late June, the 33-year-old was killed after being struck by another vehicle as he drove on Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway.
Now, his widow Rozina Baktash and their three children ages 5 and under are struggling financially and face an uncertain future in a country and culture they barely know.
Rozina doesn’t speak much English and said she isn’t able to work because of a foot condition that requires surgery, so she’s relying on help from friends and family.
She spoke through an interpreter and family friend Aziz Budri.
“It's indescribable the change that has taken place in our lives,” she said. “But I'm trying to focus on the children…keep them happy as much as possible, so they don't miss their dad as much.”
It was after 2 a.m. on June 24 when Baktash was driving eastbound on LBJ. He was driving for Lyft and planning to head home, according to his brother-in-law Habib Hamidi, who was talking with him on the phone.
“He said somebody was doing something wrong on the road. He told me like ‘What is this guy doing?” Hamidi recalled. “I heard a loud bang and then everything went quiet.”
According to the Dallas police crash report, Baktash was in the middle lane when a vehicle in the left lane made an unsafe lane change and hit his car.
The collision caused Baktash to lose control and travel across all lanes, ultimately hitting a guardrail and then a metal light pole, which toppled and landed on top of his car.
Hamidi was stunned and frantically tried to reach him.
“I kept calling him and calling him and no answers,” he said.
Now the weight of what happened feels like a burden. Hamidi hasn’t been able to stop thinking about it or Baktash’s voice during their phone call.
“The last word from his mouth…he told me, ‘Let’s go to Vegas. Who knows who’s alive tomorrow or not?” Hamidi said. “And that was the last conversation and it’s still stuck with me.”
Dallas police haven’t identified the driver of the vehicle that struck Baktash’s car, but they’re still investigating.
Rozina, who’s 29, said her husband wanted her to learn English and she hopes to do that someday soon. Now it’s more important than ever.
A GoFundMe account has been created to help the family. In Afghanistan, Baktash worked as a bodyguard for John R. Bass who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2017 to 2020.
But his two biggest priorities here were his children.
“He wanted them to get a good education, become doctors, lawyers,” his wife said. “But in Afghanistan, he was a bodybuilding champion and he wanted to continue that here.”
Rozina proudly showed photos of her husband, some of them with U.S. government officials; others of him at body building competitions.
It pains her that he won’t get to fulfill his dreams or see their children grow up.
“My husband was the best husband that one could have,” Rozina said. “Our marriage was great. The eight years that I lived with him were really the best of my life and now that he’s no more, I don’t know how to live without him.”
Farah Husain, who’s with the Law Offices of Omar Khawaja, said she and her colleagues are working with the family to investigate what happened the night Baktash was killed.
“If anyone has any witnesses or knows anything, there is someone that knows something out there, if they could please come forward with the information and let us know,” she said.
Husain said the family needs a lot of help since Baktash was the one who provided financially for the family.
“This case is so heartbreaking,” she said. “The family came here from overseas for a better life and the saddest thing about it is the night he was out, he was trying to make more money so that he could buy gifts for the children the next day.”
Anyone with information that could help the investigation can contact Detective Jason Massey at the Dallas Police Department.
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