Surrey math teacher Suminder Singh identified as fatal crash victim

Students, colleagues and community groups are praising Suminder Singh as a pillar of his community. Singh was killed in a car crash on Highway 15 Friday afternoon.

'Local hero' Suminder Singh praised online by students, colleagues as a pillar of his community

Suminder Singh, centre, pictured with his sons, in this undated photo. Singh has been identified as the victim of a fatal crash in Surrey, B.C., on Friday night. (Suminder Singh/Facebook)

A high school teacher who was killed in a car crash Friday in Surrey, B.C. is being remembered as a gifted teacher and pillar of his community

Suminder Singh, 55, died Friday when the SUV he was driving on Highway 15 (176th Street) in Surrey crashed into a tractor-trailer. The highway was closed for hours. 

Singh was a popular teacher at Tamanawis Secondary School, where he was the head of the math department. He was also a Sikh minister, tabla player and cricket coach.

As news of his death spread throughout his community, dozens of people expressed praise for him and grief for the man one community group called a "local hero." 

Baltej Dhillon, a longtime friend of Singh's, said he wasn't surprised to hear about the outpouring of grief and support for his friend. 

"He's deserving of it all," Dhillon said. "He gave of himself at every opportunity, beyond what was expected of him."

Dhillon said Singh was a "mountain of a man" who often cared more for others than he did for himself, including for the students he often treated like family.

"When we lose someone like that it's a gaping hole. It's a void that's going to be hard to fill," he said.

Singh leaves behind his wife and three adult children. 

Vigil planned 

Former students have planned a vigil for Singh for Saturday, Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. at Tamanawis Secondary.

Singh's family has declined to speak, but shared news of his death "with a heavy heart" on Facebook.

The family invited those wanting to pay their respects to join them to sing and chant together each evening at their New Westminster home from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Many who knew him have posted on the Facebook event for the vigil, some calling Singh their "favourite high school teacher." 

"He inspired me to not give up and have fun with math and life in general. He's the only reason I did well in both subjects," wrote Arjun Rai. 

Some people have also been writing messages of praise on Singh's Facebook profile. 

"Mr. Singh was more than a math teacher to me he was someone that went out of his way to care. He was the first person that truly believed in me and taught me what it meant to be a better version of myself," wrote Winona Bhatti.

About the Author

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.