The man who was behind the wheel of a two-car crash June 6, which killed Indian American Selma resident Faqir Singh in Fresno County, Calif., is facing murder charges after being found driving under the influence.
Hector Jose Torres, 26, of Riverdale, reported to Fresno County Superior Court June 9 where his DUI charge was upgraded to a murder charge following the fatal crash on Highway 43, according to a Fresno Bee report.
The crash occurred around 11:30 p.m. June 6 when Torres pulled onto the roadway from the east shoulder without yielding to oncoming traffic, according to the California Highway Patrol, the Bee reported.
Torres pulled immediately into the path of the 79-year-old Singh. The front end of Singh’s 2008 Honda hit the side of Torres’ Chevrolet, the report added.
According to a 4-traders.com report, Singh had hopped out of his car following the crash to lend support to Torres.
"The hospital person told my aunt that he was breathing," said Singh's granddaughter Sandeep Kaur, 25, who drove to Selma from Colorado on June 7, according to the report. "All of a sudden, when they were checking (his pulse), it just gave up. His heart just stopped."
Neighbors were often surprised to learn that Singh was 79 because he still worked and was physically active. When he wasn't reading his pocket-sized Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Singh frequently visited the Sikh Center of the Pacific Coast in Selma, and would care for flowers he had planted himself, the 4-traders.com report said.
Singh came to the U.S. in the late 1980s, it said, from a village in Punjab.
Singh was on his way home from his job at the Del Monte Foods Co. plant in Hanford when the crash occurred, deploying the Honda's airbag, the 4-traders.com report added.
Singh got out of his crashed car, walked to Torres' car to check on him, then collected his lunch box, helmet and gloves before the tow truck arrived, it added. The tow truck driver told Singh he was bleeding from his nose and needed care, according to the report.
Singh insisted he was fine, and explained that the crash was not his fault. After refusing to go to the hospital by ambulance, a police officer drove him there. He died shortly after at Adventist Medical Center, the report said.
CHP officers determined that Torres was driving under the influence at the time of the crash, the Bee reported.
Court records show that Torres had been in a multiple offender DUI program in 2011. He was booked into Fresno County Jail June 9 with his bail set at $1,021,000, according to Fresno County Jail records cited by the report.