Three members of an Indian American family were killed Dec. 14 when their stranded Lexus was struck from behind by another vehicle on a California freeway, authorities said.
According to the Associated Press, the family, from Santa Clara, was headed to the San Francisco airport Friday on their way to visit relatives in Dallas for the holidays when the Lexus got a flat tire on a stretch of Interstate 280 in Redwood City.
The car pulled onto the median before it was slammed by a Volkswagen SUV, authorities said.
The California Highway Patrol identified the victims as Manjit Kaur, 48; her son, Manpreet Singh, 28; and her daughter, Jasdeep Kaur, 21, all of Santa Clara.
Manjit Kaur's husband, Amarjit Singh Multani, 56, survived the crash. He was taken to Stanford Medical Center with moderate injuries and was in stable condition, CHP Officer Art Montiel said.
“Half my family is dead. I'm barely holding myself together,' Jarnail Singh, 26, the only family member not in the car, told the San Jose Mercury News Dec. 16.
The driver of the Volkswagen has been identified as G.A. Smith, 82, of San Jose, Montiel told The Associated Press Dec. 17. Smith is hospitalized after undergoing surgery for numerous injuries including broken ribs, Montiel said. His condition was not immediately available.
A phone listing for a G.A. Smith could not be found.
Smith was “driving at a high rate of speed” when the accident occurred, and it does not appear that alcohol was a factor in the incident, Montiel added.
“No arrests have been made at this time,” Montiel said. “The accident remains under investigation.”
However, CHP officials said Friday that Smith would likely be arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter upon his release from the hospital.
Manpreet Singh took a break Dec. 14 from his job as a manager at a San Jose fitness center to take his sister, mother and father to San Francisco International Airport for their flight to Dallas.
He planned to drop them off, then head back to work. But his sister's 1997 Lexus got the flat tire and they pulled to the center divider moments before the fatal accident.
On Sunday, Jarnail Singh reflected sadly on his family who came to the United States from Amritsar, India, in 2001.
He spoke gently of his brother, whose humor and smile he said would be missed by his friends. He said his brother dreamed of opening his own gym, his mother was a woman who would always help others in need, and his sister was looking forward to finishing her business degree and starting her own company.
“She hadn't even seen life yet,” he said.
According to a report in the Marin Independent Journal, a memorial fund has been set up to help cover funeral and medical costs for the family, relatives said Dec. 18.
Donations will help pay for the funerals as well as go toward the $18,000 in doctor bills for the sole family member who survived the collision, Amarjit Singh Multani, who has since been released from the hospital.
“Deep down I really want to cry,” Jarnail Singh said. "But I'm holding myself together.”
According to marinij.com, the Multani Memorial Donation Fund is account no. 1831822091 at Wells Fargo Bank. Donations can be made online or in person.
Montiel said the crash serves as a stark reminder to motorists not to stop in a roadway's center divider and to never change a tire on the freeway. Instead, the CHP advises motorists to pull off of the freeway or onto a right-hand shoulder in the event of vehicle problems.