Dwayne Raymond, 55, places a memorial stone in front of the Iraqi Kabab Market at 174 College Ave. in Waterville on Friday in honor of market owner Akram Mohammad. Mohammad died a day earlier in a motorcycle accident near the market. “In my 55 years, I’ve never met such a nice person. He would touch your shoulder with a light squeeze and offer some advice, wise beyond his years,” said Raymond, a friend and business owner from across the street. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — A man killed in a motorcycle crash on College Avenue this week was an Iraqi immigrant and father of two young children who, with his wife, had just opened an Iraqi market and deli on the avenue last week, a family friend said Friday.

Akram Mohammad, 30, had come to the U.S. a few years ago and owned a towing company before opening Iraqi Kabab Market at 174 College Ave. on Aug. 24, according to Jennifer Johnson, who knows the family. The market sold Middle Eastern groceries and Mohammad’s wife cooked made-to-order food such as shawarma and other dishes, Johnson said. She said the business was immediately popular and that Mohammad realized soon after opening that he needed to have longer hours.

“Everyone who came in was blown away at his joy and friendliness,” Johnson said. “People were raving all over Facebook. He was so proud and happy … he gave everyone that came free dessert.”

Johnson said the Muslim community is devastated at the death of Mohammad, whose body will be sent to Iraq for burial.

Dwayne Raymond holds a memorial stone in honor of Akram Mohammad, who was known as AJ to his friends. Raymond placed the stone Friday in front of Iraqi Kabab Market on College Avenue in Waterville. Mohammad, who died Thursday in a motorcycle wreck, had just opened the market the week before with his wife. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Johnson, chair of the Waterville Democratic Committee, and her husband, David, a member of the Waterville Planning Board, had become friends with Mohammad and his family through another Iraqi family who recently moved to their neighborhood. David Johnson said Friday that he had never met anyone like Mohammad, who his friends called AJ.

“He was, hands down, the happiest person I ever knew,” he said. “His joy was infectious and he’d give someone he just met the shirt off his back.”


Jennifer Johnson said the crash occurred just outside the market and Mohammad’s wife was the first person at the scene. She never returned to the store, so the Johnsons went there later to turn off the cooking equipment and lock up, she said.

She said Mohammad has a brother in Arizona who is flying to Maine on Sunday.

“His other siblings and parents are still in Iraq,” she said. “He had not seen them in 10 years and was trying to plan a trip home.”

A note and flowers are left at the front door of the Iraqi Kabab Market at 174 College Ave. in Waterville on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The wreck occurred just after 10 a.m. Thursday when the motorcycle Mohammad was driving collided with a passenger van owned by Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, according to Deputy Police Chief William Bonney.

Bonney said Friday that Mohammad was driving north on College Avenue when he lost control of the motorcycle before crossing the center line and colliding with the van, which was traveling south. A preliminary investigation shows that the speed of the motorcycle appears to have been a factor, according to Bonney.

Mohammad was not wearing a helmet and died at the scene, which was just north of Hazelwood Avenue, Bonney said.


Akram Mohammad, right, is shown with his two children. Mohammad, an Iraqi immigrant, died Thursday when his motorcycle collided with a passenger van on College Avenue in Waterville. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Johnson

The driver of the van was not hurt and was treated at the scene, he said, adding that he would not release the name of the van driver while the crash remains under investigation.

“We can reevaluate that down the road,” he said.

The speed on that stretch of College Avenue is 35 mph, according to Bonney. State police did a reconstruction of the crash and Waterville police have not yet received results from that, he said.

Suzanne Walsh, CEO of KVCAP, said Thursday that the van is typically used to take people to medical appointments, but there were no passengers in it at the time of the collision. She said KVCAP was saddened by the news of the crash and offered condolences to the victim’s family.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Johnson said the future of the market is uncertain.

“It’s doubtful his wife will run it on her own,” she said. “The community may step in and help her, but we are all just so in shock.”

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