4 victims of Jasper collision ID'd as Banff restaurant workers

One woman and three men who died Tuesday — when their SUV struck a van in Jasper National Park — have been identified as restaurant workers from Banff, Alta.

'My heart and my mind hasn’t accepted it,' says friend

Anand Singh Panwar, left, was killed in a collision in Jasper National Park on Tuesday night. His friend, Deepak Bhatt (right), identified him and the three other people who died while riding in his SUV. (Supplied by Deepak Bhatt)

One woman and three men who died Tuesday when their SUV struck a van in Jasper National Park have been identified as restaurant workers from Banff, Alta.

Anand Singh Panwar, Pavan Kathiat, Ganesh Anala and Gelek Wangmo, 38, were killed in the head-on collision on Highway 93 near Sunwapta Falls, according to two friends and a GoFundMe campaign created to raise money for funeral costs.

Two occupants of the other vehicle also died — a woman from Louisiana and her son-in-law from Texas.

Deepak Bhatt, who was close friends with Panwar and knew Kathiat, confirmed the identities to CBC News. 

Bhatt said the four had left the Banff area and were driving to Jasper in Panwar's 2018 Hyundai Kona SUV.

"I cannot believe he is no more," he said. "I just phoned him on Sunday night. My heart and my mind hasn't accepted it, this thing has happened to Anand."

Panwar and Kathiat were roommates in the Rocky Mountains resort town and both worked at the local Masala Authentic Indian Cuisine restaurant, Bhatt said. Panwar was a chef there.

Bhatt said Panwar's wife is in hospital, due to have their second child any day. She lives in India with their six-year-old son.

Panwar moved to Canada four years ago from Kuwait to make a living so he could support his family.

"He is a very nice person, very helpful person for anyone who needed help," Bhatt said.

Panwar was supposed to travel to Vancouver next month to visit Bhatt and then continue on to India to meet his second child.

Kathiat was engaged to be married in November. His fiancée also lives in India, according to Bhatt.

Wangmo, who was also from India, worked part-time at the restaurant with the two men and also worked full-time as a housekeeper at the Rimrock Resort Hotel. After befriending the three men, the group would often hang out on their days off, said another friend.
Gelek Wangmo, 38, was one of six people killed in a two-vehicle collision on Tuesday near Jasper. (Khando Wangmo)

Panwar would drive Wangmo to her job at the Rimrock every day. 

"She was a hard-working person," said friend Khando Wangmo. "She was a nice person. She never thought about herself."

Anala also worked in the Banff hospitality industry, at the Indian Curry House restaurant. 

Two occupants in the other vehicle, a van, were identified earlier. Angela Dye Elkins of Benton, La., and her son-in-law, Nick Copeland, who lived in Texas, also died in Tuesday's crash.

Two other people in the van, Curtis Elkins and his daughter, Sarah Copeland, were taken to hospital in serious condition. The fifth passenger, a toddler, was taken to hospital in Jasper, but wasn't injured.

After the crash both vehicles caught fire. A third vehicle went off the road when its driver tried to avoid the crash. The two occupants of that vehicle suffered minor injuries.