Indian nationals possibly among victims of Jasper-area crash that killed 6 people: consular official
Some of the victims of Tuesday’s horrific crash on a highway near Jasper, Alta. could be Indian nationals, according to an official with the Consulate General of India in Vancouver.
The official told Global News on Thursday that he has been corresponding with the RCMP about the identity of three of the victims but as of 3 p.m., he had yet to confirm if they are indeed Indian.
The collision involved two vehicles. On Wednesday, Global News confirmed the identities of the two people in a van who died. On Thursday, Global News confirmed Anand Singh Panwar, Pawan Kathait, Gelek Wangmo and Ganesh Anala were the four people who died in the other vehicle.
View photos of Panwar, Kathait, Wangmo and Anala in the gallery below:
Global News spoke with Deepak Bhatt, a friend of Panwar’s, by phone. He said he was informed of his friend’s death early Wednesday morning.
“A friend and co-worker, they work in the same restaurant… in Banff, so they live in the same house,” Bhatt said. “Anand didn’t come back in the morning so he (Panwar’s roommate) was curious when he woke up in the morning. He said [Anand’s] car was not there so he tried to call non-stop, continuously… he didn’t answer anything.
“I talked to Anand on Sunday evening… [then] this thing happens and I can’t imagine that.”
Bhatt said Panwar, who was in his thirties, was headed to Jasper to spend the day there with his friends on his day off. He said Panwar was planning to go to India next month and that he and his wife were expecting the birth of their second child in the near future.
Bhatt said both Panwar and Kathait were temporary foreign workers but Panwar had applied for permanent residency in Canada.
“This crash, I can’t explain the words,” he said. “I couldn’t even believe, because he’s no longer with us.
“I don’t have any words to describe that.”
Kathait and Panwar were roommates and co-workers.
Wangmo also worked at the same restaurant, which Global News has confirmed is Masala Authentic Indian Cuisine.
The 37-year-old was a Tibetan refugee that came to Canada in 2015 as part of a program to bring 1,000 Tibetans to Canada, according to Nima Dorjee, president of the Project Tibet Society.
Dorjee spoke with Global News over the phone from Edmonton and said the entire community is mourning the loss together and doing what they can to offer comfort and support to her family overseas.
He added that while Wangmo doesn’t have any direct relatives in Canada, the 1,000 other Tibetans around the country are a different kind of family.
“The group of 1,000 people that we brought over are collectively mourning and holding prayers in the respective cities,” he said.
The group is raising money for her Calgary funeral arrangements and for her family, who Dorjee said was dependent on Wangmo. It’s also hoped they may be able to bring one of her brothers over to Canada.
Sikhandher Rajput, a friend of Ganesh Anala, also spoke with Global News, calling the death of his close friend “devastating.”
“He was very loveable and joyful among friends,” Rajput said.
“His dreams got scattered with the horrifying tragedy.”
Rajput said Anala was the only son of his family, who are all back in India.
“I can’t imagine what his family members are going through.”
The GoFundMe page set up to raise money for Anala’s family and the expense of sending his body back to India had reached nearly $8,000 by 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
The crash happened on Highway 93 at Honeymoon Lake at around 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Police said a van heading north on the highway collided head-on with a southbound vehicle, setting both on fire.
The van was carrying a family from the U.S.
A third vehicle that swerved to avoid the crash ended up in the ditch. Two people inside the vehicle suffered minor injuries, police said.
Watch below: We are learning more about the American family involved in a deadly crash near Jasper on Tuesday evening. Two members of the family died, while two others are in hospital and a baby escaped unscathed. Julia Wong filed this report on Thursday.
“Please extend your kind support in the form of donations to their families at this critical situation to overcome the financial crisis at that point of time,” one of the pages reads.
Bhatt, who said he comes from the same part of India as Panwar and worked in Kuwait with Panwar for about 10 years, told Global News Panwar came to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Banff the entire time.
“He came before me to Canada and when I came to Canada, I stayed with him,” Bhatt said. After a few weeks, however, Bhatt left for Vancouver when he couldn’t find work in Banff.
“My heart is not accepting this thing,” Bhatt said. “I can’t even think this thing happened.
“This news… it really broke me.”
Bhatt is currently in Edmonton where he is helping with arrangements to bring Panwar and Kathait’s remains back to India.
The RCMP has not confirmed the names of any of the people who died in Tuesday’s crash. The cause of the crash remains unknown.
READ MORE: 6 people killed in crash south of Jasper
Watch below: Six people are dead following a devastating crash near Jasper, Alta. Vinesh Pratap filed this report on Wednesday.
–With files from Global News’ Julia Wong and The Canadian Press
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