Missing sidewalk could be to blame for bike death of Waseca, Minn. boy

- When 10-year-old Mohamed Mungani was killed in August he was doing what most boys his age do – riding a bike.  Yet, Mohamed was also guilty of the same thing many of us are – not wearing a helmet.

While the community of Waseca, Minn. now seeks to spread the message of bicycle safety, one man says there’s another factor that likely contributed to the boy’s death—a missing sidewalk. It is a concern the homeowner has asked Waseca city leaders to address for nearly a decade.

The man’s fear that a child would be hurt or even killed in front of his home is now a tragic reality. He and Mohamed’s family now grapple with what they both consider a preventable loss.

“I couldn’t even feel my body, I was just shaking, and I was so numb,” Mohamed’s sister, Bibi Sheikhwali, told Fox 9 of her initial reaction to the incident that cost Mohamed his life on Aug. 17.

“I was like, ‘are you serious?’ My little brother just got hit,” Sheikhwali said.

“Mohamed was my best son,” Mohamed’s father, Faqay Mungani, said.

Mohamed’s family is not alone. The entire Waseca community grieves with them.

“Most loveable boy you’d ever meet, best friends with my little boy, always smiling,” neighbor Brad Mondahl, a family friend, remembers of Mohamed.

It was just after 5:30 p.m. that evening when Mohamed and a friend rode their bikes along the 700 block of 4th Street SW on bicycles and they pulled out into the street.

According to the police report, Mohamed was struck after wrapping around a parked truck, however, neighbor Joe Medina says the boys had no choice.

“It just makes no sense whatsoever why a sidewalk ends there and ends there,” Medina said of the stretch in front of his home on 4th Street SW. He insists the accident was avoidable.

Oddly, the sidewalk ends for only about the length of a block.

“For them to have to dart around a truck that’s parked right there, whether it be daylight or dusk, it just makes no sense,” Medina said.

While Mohamed’s friend made it around the parked vehicle safely, Mohamed was struck by an elderly woman driving only 25 mph.

The woman remained on scene, cooperated and told police she did not see Mohamed until he was on the hood of her car.

“I called the city after it happened. I called the city before it happened,” said Medina, who has worried about Waseca’s children since 2008 when he bought his home.

Medina tells Fox 9 he has complained to the city about the missing side walk for the past eight years.
For now, the community addresses the other factor that may have contributed to Mohamed’s death –he did not wear a helmet. 

Brad Mondahl, a friend of Mohamed’s family, is helping plan a motorcycle run that will be held in Mohamed’s memory and raise money to purchase bicycle helmets for children. 

“I wish I could get a helmet for every child in this state,” Mondahl said.

Mondahl hopes the money raised from the motorcycle run may help keep others from the pain the boy’s family is forced to overcome.

“Always wear a helmet and just watch where you’re going anything can happen and your life can be gone in a split second. Don’t ever take anything for granted,” Sheikhwali said.

The Mohamed Mungani Motorcycle Run will begin at 11 a.m. at the American Legion in Albert Lea and end at the American Legion in Waseca at 1:45 p.m. A free will donation meal will follow the motorcycle run. There will also be a silent auction and a red and blue balloon release at 3 p.m. to honor Mohamed.

The registration fee for the motorcycle run is a suggested donation of $20 or a bicycle helmet.

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