WATCH ABOVE: Police believe a fatal multi-vehicle collision over the weekend was another case of drunk driving, and efforts are underway to honour the victims. Tracy Nagai reports.
CALGARY – Two victims of a car crash in the Beltline early Saturday morning have been identified as Calgary taxi driver Amritpal Kharbanda and his 25-year-old fare, Jillian Lavallee.
EMS paramedics responded to the collision just before 2 a.m. at MacLeod Trail and 12 Avenue S.E. on Saturday.
Police said a Toyota Prius taxi, Cadillac Escalade and Honda Civic were the vehicles involved in the crash, and alcohol was a factor.
One man has been charged, and the victims’ families are calling for justice.
Kharbanda’s loved ones gathered at home, remembering their husband, father, and friend.
“He’s so friendly and easy to read. Easy to approach. Willing to help and always laughing,” said family friend Maninder Walia.
The future is uncertain for Kharbanda’s family; his widow is tasked with raising two young daughters.
“I don’t know how I’m going to bring them up without him, without his support,” said his wife, Harpreet Kharbanda.
Forty-six-year-old Kharbanda moved to Calgary from India six years ago, ready to start a new life. But that ended Saturday, after the taxi driver picked up his fare.
Kharbanda’s cab was broadsided by an Escalade and slammed into a lamp post.
Police say the Escalade ran a red light and both speed and alcohol are factors.
Twenty-year-old Ali Montoya has been charged with two counts of impaired driving causing death.
“I just want justice for my dad because he did nothing wrong and we have to suffer because of one choice. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next but because of that person’s choice, he could have called a cab and saved not just my dad’s life [but] that girl who died,” Japnoor Kharbanda said about losing her dad.
Kharbanda’s passenger was Lavallee, who was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries, and died hours later.
A statement from a friend reads in part:
“Her laugh was contagious and was loved by so many. I hope that something is done to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Lavallee’s parents, Dan and Brenda, released a statement on Monday, remembering their youngest daughter as a “bright, complex girl who loved life, loved travel and absolutely and loyally loved her friends and family.”
“As her parents, we always worried about our girls’ safety and often said we trusted them but not the other drivers on the road. Unfortunately, our greatest fear came true in the early morning hours of Saturday. We believe in justice and look forward to that conclusion but it is our belief that in addition to the well respected MADD movement, Dads need to also have an active voice in publicly declaring their support in the drunk driving epidemic.”
In addition to MADD, Lavallee’s parents said they want to raise money for Kharbanda’s family, and asked for donations through the Jillian Lavallee Legacy Fund.
With files from Erika Tucker