Meharpratap Singh Minhas, front middle, and his father, Upinderjit Minhas, back left, were killed in a highway crash in Texas on Saturday. Meharpratap's grandmother, Nirmal Kaur Minhas, 68, not pictured, also died. Jasleen Minhas, back right, and her two daughters survived the collision. Funerals for the deceased are planned in Texas this weekend.
CALGARY -Three members of an Indo-Canadian family from Calgary died in a tragic accident in Texas, USA.
Meharpratap Singh Minhas, 6, front middle, and his father, Upinderjit Minhas, 38, back left, were killed in the head-on highway crash in Texas on Saturday. Meharpratap's grandmother, Nirmal Kaur Minhas, 68, not pictured, also died. Jasleen Minhas, back right, and her two daughters survived the collision.
Funerals for the deceased are planned in Texas this weekend, while another service will take place at a Sikh temple back in Calgary in the coming weeks.
The Calgar-based family were driving south in a Honda Odyssey minivan on Highway 1061 about 37 kilometres northwest of Amarillo, Texas, just before 7 a.m. on Saturday when they collided with a northbound tractor-trailer.
Nirmal Kaur Minhas was pronounced dead at the scene. Her son, Upinderjit Minhas, 38, and his son Meharpratap Singh Minhas, 6, were taken to Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo, where they later died, reported CBC News.
Mekekdeep Kaur Minhas, 10, was taken to Northwest Texas Hospital and later airlifted to United Medical Centre in Lubbock, about 200 kilometres south of Amarillo. She remains in serious but stable condition with a spinal injury and has already undergone several surgeries, family members say.
Minhas's wife, Jasleen, and her younger daughter, Japuleen, 8, were also taken to hospital with injuries that aren't life-threatening. Japuleen has already been released.
Several friends and relatives of the Minhas family from Calgary and Toronto have gone to Texas to be with Jasleen and her daughters.
A funeral for all three victims will be held on July 22 in Lubbock.
"It's very hard to accept this," Harcharan Parhar, whose brother-in-law is married to one of Upinderjit's sisters, said Tuesday.
The family was in Texas to visit Jasleen's parents in Houston, Parhar said.
"I believe their plan was to fly over there. But then they decided instead of flying, why don't they go by van and then they can visit other places, because they had two weeks?"
Upinderjit Minhas would have turned 39 on Tuesday, said Parhar. He came to Canada from India when he was a teenager and studied in Calgary.
He had a job with a financial firm that took him all around the world.
"He was a very intelligent boy," said Parhar.
Parhar said he spoke to Jasleen on Wednesday and she said she doesn't remember anything after the collision because she was unconscious.
"What happened, nobody knows," he said. "Something happened suddenly in seconds."
The truck driver, identified as a 57-year-old man from Amarillo, was taken to hospital in non-life-threatening condition.
A police spokesperson said the weather was clear and it appears that the minivan crossed the centre line.
Sgt. Dan Buesing, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said officials are being mindful of what the family is going through as police try to determine what led to the crash.
"It's a tremendous tragedy they're dealing with. So, they'll do their investigation as best they can, and appropriate as they can, and let the family get through this as best they can," he said.
Beusing said the collision occurred on a two-lane secondary highway, which was dry at the time. He said the sun is unlikely to have been in the driver's eyes at that hour.
"From the witness statement of the driver of the 18-wheeler, the minivan just turned into his lane," Beusing said.
"Of course he doesn't know what happened, but he said it looked like someone may have fell asleep."
He said state troopers are investigating, but won't question the mother until she is ready, reported CBC News.
Courtesy CBC News