Toronto

'He should be alive': Cousin of 1 of 5 Indian students killed in Highway 401 crash speaks out

Karanpal Singh had only been living in Canada just over a year before his life was cut short by a crash on Ontario's Highway 401 over the weekend, killing him along with four other young students from India.

Karanpal Singh, 22, lived in Brampton; was among those dead in weekend collision

Jagroop Singh, left, remembers his cousin Karanpal Singh, right, as a brother. Karanpal died along with four other students in a crash with a tractor-trailer along Highway 401 on March 12. (Jagroop Singh)

Karanpal Singh had only been living in Canada for just over a year when his life was cut short by a crash on Ontario's Highway 401 over the weekend, killing him along with four other young students from India.

Singh, 22, had been living in Brampton and studying part-time in Montreal. 

In his short time here, he had become very close with Jagroop Singh, a cousin of his who lived nearby.

"He was a great person," Jagroop told CBC News. "It's unexplainable because…he should be alive."

Singh and seven others were travelling in a passenger van from Montreal to Brampton early Saturday morning. Police believe the van had been stopped on the side of the highway near Quinte West, at the time of the crash with a tractor-trailer around 3:45 a.m.

The investigation into the crash is continuing, and no charges have been laid, Ontario Provincial Police say.

Singh was pronounced dead at the scene along with Jaspinder Singh, 21, Harpreet Singh, 24, Mohit Couhan, 23, and Pawan Kumar, 23. 

Two other survivors were rushed to a Kingston hospital with injuries, while another passenger was unharmed.

At least three of the dead, and one of the injured survivors, were students at Canada College in Montreal.

Karanpal Singh, 22, was originally from India. The student was living in Brampton, Ont. and had been living in Canada just over a year before the crash cut his life short. (Jagroop Singh)

Working to bring his family to Canada

Singh was the only son of his parents, who live in India, and he was working to support them financially. He also leaves behind a sister.

He had aspirations of becoming a truck driver and one day owning his own business, his cousin said.  Among his plans for the future, Singh eventually wanted to move his whole family to Canada.

He had other ideas for the future too, Jagroop said.

"But for right now he was just going to finish his studies."

Karanpal Singh, left, and Jaspinder Singh, right, were two of the five students who died in Saturday's tragic collision. (Jagroop Singh)

Jagroop also knew Jaspinder Singh, who was among those who died at the scene of the crash. 

Despite sharing a surname, Karanpal and Jaspinder were not related. But they lived in the same house with other roommates and were good friends, Jagroop said.

"[Jaspinder] was a really nice guy," Singh's cousin said. "I'm just one month older than Karanpal and just two or three months older than Jaspinder. They call me veera."

Veera means "big brother in Punjabi," Jagroop said.

Raising funds to send victims' bodies home

From the Kingston hospital where the two injured are being treated, Jagroop said he has started a Go Fund Me page to raise money to send Singh's body back to his family in India. 

Similar pages have been set up for the other victims.

A spokesman from Canada College said Monday the school administration was devastated by the loss and scrambling to support students and arrange to send the victims' bodies back to India. John David Couturier said the school has offered to pay the cost of its students' funerals.

"We are trying our best for all [of them]," Jagroop said. "So we can send them back home."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tyler Cheese reports for CBC Toronto. You can contact him at tyler.cheese@cbc.ca or @TylerRCheese on Twitter.

With files from Rhythm Rathi and The Canadian Press

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