Isaac Oehlers

Isaac, the first child of Australian parents Sarah Copland and Craig Oehlers was born in New York in 2018, where his mother was working for the United Nations. His family moved to Lebanon in August 2019, after Sarah was appointed to the ESCWA- Beirut Office.

Isaac was extremely intelligent. From the time he was born, he was very alert and was a fast learner. He had an analytical mind and was very good at puzzles. He also liked to closely examine how things worked, especially his toys, including his favorite tricycle. This led his parents to wonder if he would become an engineer when he grows up.

Isaac was a happy child and enjoyed living in Lebanon, where he was learning to speak three different languages: English, Arabic and French. This was, according to Sarah, an opportunity he wouldn’t have had elsewhere. His first words were “mummy” and “more”, but he quickly started to widen his vocabulary and express himself with words and sentences in different languages.

Isaac was very outgoing and confident, he loved being around people. He was very affectionate with his friends and family, and enjoyed waving and talking to people when out on a walk with his parents. He was also fond of the cats he would speak to at the Sursock Museum garden.

When the earth-shattering explosion went off, Isaac was home, sitting in his highchair, eating his dinner. Windows shattered and he was struck in the chest by flying shards of glass. Sarah, who was pregnant at the time, was knocked to the ground. Sarah and Craig quickly realised Isaac was bleeding heavily. They used towels to apply pressure to the wound in his chest and Sarah carried him and ran down the stairs to get help. Outside, they encountered massive destruction. A kind stranger stopped amidst the chaos and took them to Rafic Hariri University Hospital. Sarah, who was injured herself, was immediately taken for medical attention and Craig accompanied Isaac to the operating room where he spent the next few hours fighting for his life. Craig who was waiting outside snuck into the room to check up on Isaac, and saw the heart monitor flatlining. The sight and sound of the monitor flatlining, indicating Isaac’s passing, will forever haunt his memories.

Handsome little Isaac was ripped from his happy little family, he was cruelly denied the opportunities in life that he would have enjoyed had he lived and grown among us… The world lost an exceptional child who was definitely going places.

One of the youngest victims of the Port of Beirut explosion briefly visited this earth. He was taken far too young, at two years and three months. Isaac was due to leave Lebanon and travel home to Australia with his family in late-August. Three weeks difference and he would still be alive, surrounded by his loved ones.