Families of both victims and suspect in fatal West Sacramento crash speak out

Local News

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – The father of the driver arrested for the murder of two parents after a DUI head-on crash sent a message to the victims’ family Wednesday.

A full-body cast prevents Jannah Afzili from being a carefree 3-year-old and playing in her favorite toy.

“She would swing in it and act like she was superwoman. And now she’s in a cast,” said her aunt Naeema Afzili.

Jannah Afzili and her 7-month-old brother, Azaan Afzili, were riding with their parents on Feb. 15 when police say a suspected drunken driver struck them head-on.

The crash killed their parents, Rasul and Anila Afzili. 

Relatives said the family was on their way home after celebrating Rasul Afzili’s birthday with family at his mother’s house.

West Sacramento police arrested 27-year-old Gabriel Poletti of Elk Grove on two counts of murder and two counts of driving under the influence, causing injury.

Court records show that Poletti was convicted for a DUI in Sacramento County in 2016. He received three years of probation.

The family said this has been hard to comprehend. As Muslims, they don’t drink alcohol but their loved ones ended up being killed by someone who police said did. 

“When you drink to the level where you can’t control your actions, you not only harm yourself, but you harm someone else. And they just ruined not only the two kids’ life, they, it’s hit a lot of people,” Naeema Afzili explained.

FOX40 reached out to the suspect’s father. He wanted the Afzili family to know this:

The Poletti family offers our deepest apologies to the Afzilli family. We are so sorry to be part of your grief. Your family will always remain in our prayers.

Poletti Family

The family is very close and says they will help raise both children but say they can never replace their beloved brother and sister-in-law.

“He was a teddy bear. He was a loving person. He always cared for people. He always was concerned and was wondering how he can help people out,” Naeema Afzili explained.

“She was an angel,” Naeema Afzili said about her sister-in-law. “She was a sweetheart. She cared for my parents, as if they were her own.” 

And they say they’ll miss her favorite saying:

“Perfect. And she would nod her head and be like, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ With a big smile on her face. A smile meant a million words,” recalled Qaseem Afzili, Anila Afzili’s brother-in-law.

 The family hopes from their story, everyone will consider the consequences of drinking and driving.

“Please, please, please if you choose to drink, drink responsibly. Because if you don’t care for yourself, at least care for us, someone else. Because that could be your brother, that could be your sister, those could be your kids. Those could be your parents,” Naeema Afzili said.

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