Dozens head to Texas for funerals of Calgary relatives killed in crash

A funeral will be held in Texas this weekend for three members of a Calgary family killed in a head-on crash there last Saturday, while another service will take place at a Sikh temple back in Calgary in the coming weeks.

Some family members still in hospital after Saturday's deadly head-on collision

Meharpratap Singh Minhas, 6, front middle, and his father, Upinderjit Minhas, 38, back left, were killed in a highway crash in Texas. Meharpratap's grandmother, Nirmal Kaur Minhas, 68, not pictured, also died. Jasleen Minhas, back right, and her two daughters survived the collision. (Facebook)

More than two dozen members of a Calgary family will travel to Lubbock, Texas this week to attend funeral services for a grandmother, son and grandson killed in a head-on crash.

Services will be held Sunday for Nirmal Kaur Minhas, 68, her son, Upinderjit Minhas, 38, and his son, Meharpratap Singh Minhas, 6.

All three were killed in a Saturday morning crash about 37 kilometres northwest of Amarillo when the minivan they were riding in collided head-on with a tractor-trailer, just before 7 a.m. on Saturday.

Nirmal was pronounced dead at the scene while Upinderjit and Meharpratap were taken to Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo, where they later died.

Upinderjit's wife, Jasleen Minhas, and their younger daughter, Japuleen Minhas, 8, were taken to hospital suffering serious injuries.

Another daughter, Mekekdeep Minhas, 10, was taken to hospital where she remains in serious but stable condition after being airlifted to United Medical Centre in Lubbock.

The services are being held in Texas as Jasleen's injuries won't allow her to travel. Japuleen has been released from hospital and is being cared for by family.

Harcharan Parhar, whose brother-in-law is married to one of Upinderjit Minhas's sisters, stands outside the Minhas family home in Calgary's Panorama Hills. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Harcharan Parhar, whose brother-in-law is married to one of Upinderjit's sisters, said on Tuesday that Mekekdeep suffered spinal injuries, will likely have to undergo several surgeries and will remain in hospital for up to six months.

Another service will be held at a Sikh temple in Calgary in the coming weeks.

Visiting family

The family was in Texas to visit Jasleen's parents in Houston, said Parhar.

"It's very hard to accept this," he said. 

"I believe their plan was to fly over there. But then they decided instead of flying, why don't they go by van and then they can visit other places, because they had two weeks?"

Upinderjit Minhas would have turned 39 on Tuesday, said Parhar. He came to Canada from India in 1996 when he was a teenager and studied in Calgary.

He had a job with a financial firm that took him all around the world.

"He was a very intelligent boy," said Parhar.

Parhar said he spoke to Jasleen on Wednesday and she said she doesn't remember anything after the collision because she was unconscious.

"What happened, nobody knows," he said. "Something happened suddenly in seconds."

Young father 'was always happy'

Another relative, Avi Jaswal, said the family had decided to travel at night during their trip to try to avoid the midday Texas heat.

Jaswal said the young father was affectionately known as "Happy" and would have celebrated his 39th birthday in the coming days.

"Upinderjit was the life of the party. He was always happy and he always tried to help everyone."

Jaswal said Nirmal was a "wonderful lady" and Mehar was "a cute kid" who adored his sisters and would constantly follow them around.

The truck driver, identified as a 57-year-old man from Amarillo, was taken to hospital in non-life-threatening condition.

Minivan crossed line?

A police spokesperson said the weather was clear and it appears that the minivan crossed the centre line.

Sgt. Dan Buesing, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said officials are being mindful of what the family is going through as police try to determine what led to the crash.

"It's a tremendous tragedy they're dealing with. So, they'll do their investigation as best they can, and appropriate as they can, and let the family get through this as best they can," he said.

Beusing said the collision occurred on a two-lane secondary highway, which was dry at the time. He said the sun is unlikely to have been in the driver's eyes at that hour.

"From the witness statement of the driver of the 18-wheeler, the minivan just turned into his lane," Beusing said.

"Of course he doesn't know what happened, but he said it looked like someone may have fell asleep."

He said state troopers are investigating, but won't question the mother until she is ready.


With files from Dan McGarvey and The Canadian Press