The nine passengers in a Ford SUV involved in Sundays head-on collision were attending the Sikh Parade and Festival in Yuba City just prior to the crash.
Jaswinder Singh Nagra, a Sacramento businessman, said his best friend Tejinder Singh was behind the wheel of the vehicle that shot across the center divide of Interstate 5 while going southbound near Hood-Franklin Road striking a sedan going in the opposite direction.
Three people in the SUV were killed including Singh as well as the driver of the sedan. Seven people were sent to four area hospitals.
Singh Nagra spent the morning at the UC Med Center trying to flag calls from family and friends of the victims, many who did not know if loved ones survived.
“It’s so bad for the community and my family, ” said Singh Nagra who knew all of the people in the SUV.
He agonized over his failure to convince the group to stay a little longer at the Yuba City event that annually draws 60,000 participants from around the state.
“They were having a good time, they were happy…I said just stay one more hour, then you can go..they said no we have to go,” said Singh Nagra.
Tejinder Singh, who friends called Buble, was a former teacher at the Sequoia Institute and worked in the biotech field in Fremont. Singh Nagra said he convinced his friend to move to California from Missouri.
CHP investigators still don’t know why Singh crossed the center divide, a 70 foot wide stretch of dirt and grass.
“One witness (in the SUV) told us he woke up as they were rolling over. So basically everyone was asleep in the car which kind of leans you toward sleepy driver,” said Sgt. Bill Languemi.
But Languemi said there are many other possible causes including medical issues with the driver, brakes, tires road conditions and weather. The behavior of both drivers 24 hours prior to the accident will also be examined carefully.
“Were they getting rest, were they eating, were they drinking. Due to the fact that they both died we have to wait for toxicology results as well,” said Languemi.
Singh Nagra said his friend was a devout Sikh and did not drink, smoke or eat meat.
“He was a very responsible guy and never had any bad record,” said Singh Nagra.
Just a few miles south, an Elk Grove man was killed in a nearly identical head-0n accident just two weeks ago. A couple of miles from Sunday’s accident a metal guard rail separates the traffic going in opposite directions near Laguna Boulevard. Languemi said the safety design of the freeway is the responsibility of Cal Trans.
“…whether a center divide is necessary or not and in that area there they believe one is not (necessary),” said Languemi.