Calgary

Mother and daughters who survived fatal family crash in Texas back in Calgary to start long, painful recovery

A mother and her two daughters who survived the crash that killed her husband, son and mother-in law is now back in Calgary, where the Sikh community and many others are busy raising money to help the family in the difficult months and years ahead.

GoFundMe page is raising money to help Jasleen Minhas deal with the financial fallout of crash and injuries

Jasleen Minhas lost her husband and son in the crash along with her mother-in-law. Minhas and her daughters flew back to Calgary from Texas on Wednesday. The eldest daughter is now being treated for serious spinal injuries at Alberta Children’s Hospital. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

A mother and her two daughters who survived the crash that killed her husband, son and mother-in law is now back in Calgary, where the Sikh community and many others are busy raising money to help the family in the difficult months and years ahead.

Jasleen Minhas and her daughters Mehak, 10, and Jupleen, 8, were flown back to Calgary on Wednesday after receiving treatment in a Texas hospital for a long list of injuries following the fatal crash last month.

Nirmal Kaur Minhas, 68, her son, Upinderjit Minhas, 38, and his son, Meharpratap Singh Minhas, 6, were all killed in the crash about 37 kilometres northwest of Amarillo when the minivan they were riding in collided head-on with a tractor-trailer on July 14.

Funerals were held in Lubbock, Texas, followed by a ceremony at the Dashmesh Cultural Centre in northeast Calgary.

Minhas says the focus is now on her eldest daughter.

"I just want everyone to pray for my daughter and hope that she gets well," said Minhas, speaking outside the Alberta Children's Hospital, where she has spent all of her time since arriving back in Calgary.

Meharpratap Singh Minhas, 6, front middle, and his father Upinderjit Minhas, 38, back left, were killed in a highway crash in Texas on July 14. Nirmal Kaur Minhas, 68, not pictured, also died. Jasleen Minhas, back right, and her two daughters survived the collision. (Facebook)

Mehak suffered the most serious injuries out of the three survivors. A spinal injury has left her without the use of her legs and no control over her bladder and bowel, as well as fractures in her left leg and right arm.

"I just want her to get OK. She's my strength, she's very strong and I hope that her strength gives me strength," said a tearful Minhas.

"It's likely going to take months if not years to see some recovery but we are very hopeful that eventually Mehak will be able to do all the things she has wanted to do, the Bhangra [dancing) and biking, but it is a very slow process and it is going to be challenging," said Minhas family friend, Gurpreet Singh.

Mehak's younger sister, Jupleen, suffered a fractured collarbone in the crash but has been discharged from hospital, along with her mother, who is still recovering from rib fractures and muscle injuries.

Minhas family friend Gurpreet Singh says the family faces a long and challenging road ahead but support from the community has been a huge comfort. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The medical bill from the U.S. is expected to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars and the family is still in the process of working with insurance companies to establish exactly what is covered.

As the family starts to come to terms with what happened, Calgarians from all walks of life are stepping up to help and show support.

A GoFundMe page has already raised more than $66,000 to help the family tackle a financially uncertain future.

"That is going very strong, and that is one thing we are thankful for on behalf of the whole family," said Gurpreet Singh.

"There is a lot of economic burden, not just with the cost in the States but in the upcoming costs in the future as well," said Singh.

"I really hope everyone can think of Mehak in their prayers and hope for us and to pray for this young girl," Singh added.

Singh says the support they have received has been tremendous, both in Calgary and in Lubbock. 

"Once the word went out that a family had been travelling and had an accident, local people came up with donations, lunch, dinner — such massive support," said Singh.

"Upinderjit and Jasleen are from the Sikh faith, and the local Hindu community there said 'you're free to use our temple for your prayers,' which is exceptional," Singh added.

As of Thursday evening, the GoFundMe page for the Minhas family had reached more than $66,000. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Jasleen Minhas is shattered by the huge loss she has suffered but has found some comfort in the support of others.

"In Lubbock everybody was really nice, the nurses and staff at the hospital were kind and generous and supported us," said Minhas.

"We are going through a very big loss in our life right now so we're trying to cope, and having family and friends with us is really helpful," Minhas said.

About the Author

Dan McGarvey

Journalist

Dan McGarvey is a mobile journalist focused on filing stories remotely for CBC Calgary’s web, radio, TV and social media platforms, only using an iPhone and mobile tech. You can email story ideas and tips to Dan at: dan.mcgarvey@cbc.ca or tweet him @DanMcGarvey