One of the victims of the fatal Christmas Eve bus crash on the Okanagan Connector Highway in British Columbia is remembered as a family man and beloved colleague who lit up every room in which he entered.
Karanjot Singh has been identified as one of four people who lost their lives when an Ebus lost control in freezing conditions between Kelowna and Merritt, rolling over and sending dozens to hospital.
Singh had arrived in British Columbia a few months earlier on a work permit and set up shop as chef at Kismet Winery’s Masala Bistro in Oliver.
Cause of fatal Christmas Eve bus crash still under investigation: BC RCMP
He was on his way to visit family in Surrey for the holidays and take an English test needed to apply for permanent residency, hoping to bring his wife and two children from Punjab to Canada to start a life better.
“The only dream he had was to bring his family here. They missed him a lot. He spent a lot of time away from them,” his friend and colleague Anshul Thakur told PKBNEWS on Tuesday.
“He finally felt like everything was falling into place. All the pieces fit together. »
Thakur spoke with Singh by phone shortly before the crash, just as the bus was heading for the Okanagan Connector. Singh had called, he said, to make sure Thakur got home safely without dropping him off at the bus depot.
“We were almost like a family. You know, you’re in a new country, you don’t have that connection. So we always had that with us.
Kistmet chief Howard Collince Michael Samy said his colleagues became concerned when they learned that Singh had not arrived at his destination as planned.
4 dead, several injured in BC bus crash on Christmas Eve: RCMP
He described frantic efforts on Christmas Day to find Singh, until the RCMP finally called with the devastating news, information he then had to pass on to Singh’s wife.
“It was difficult for her, so she passed the phone to her father. All she could hear was the bad news. After five minutes, she called me and said ‘Brother, can you you bring my husband back?’ And I didn’t have an answer to that question,” he said, becoming visibly emotional.
“When he’s in the kitchen or inside the restaurant, you see him, like, the whole place lights up. He was always happy. You stand next to him, you will feel happy. He was that kind of person,” he added.
“We will miss him.”
Singh, 41, was one of 45 passengers on the Vancouver-bound bus when it rolled off.
RCMP said they were still investigating the cause of the accident on Tuesday, but early evidence showed the westbound vehicle left the road to the left, crossed the median and tipped onto the passenger side in the lane at east direction.
The bus was equipped with seat belts, but it appears that most passengers were not wearing them.
Transport Minister Rob Fleming said on Tuesday the Commercial Vehicle Safety Unit was also investigating.
Asked if the freeway should have been closed on Saturday, he said maintenance contractors were in effect and conditions on the road were not unusual for the time of year and met specifications set by Province.
Singh’s cousin, a long-haul trucker from British Columbia with 10 years of experience, disputed that claim, however.
“This accident could have been avoided if the road was clean. There are too many icy roads, and this bus company, why are they traveling in icy conditions? Why didn’t they stop the bus? Kalwinder Singh asked.
‘It happened so fast’: Survivors of fatal BC bus rollover wonder why highway wasn’t closed
Kalwinder said he believes the Department of Transportation and its contractors are failing to adequately clear highways within the province, describing the road from Kamloops to Golden as the worst highway in the country.
A recent transport from Kamloops to Surrey took him 12 hours, he said.
“Too many vehicles, accidents every year. The government does not take care of the highways,” he said.
“They always clean up after an accident, not before. They will wait for the crash and then do something.
Singh was on his way to visit Kalwinder in Surrey, and the couple had planned to celebrate the New Year on a video call just half an hour before the crash, he said.
Kalwinder said his cousin’s wife and mother were both “in very bad shape”.
“It’s very very, very awful,” he said. “It’s really awful.”
The condition of the roads continues to be scrutinized after the accident.
In its Tuesday update, the RCMP said rain and hail had just started to fall and road conditions were “fluid”, ranging from clear and wet to frozen roads with ice and snow on the road surface.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Singh’s family, which as of Tuesday night had raised over $18,000.
Anyone who witnessed the collision and did not speak to investigators, or has dash cam footage from the Ebus before the collision, or was a passenger who has not been identified and contacted by the police, please contact Cpl. S. Audley by email at: [email protected]
-With files from Kathy Michaels and The Canadian Press
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