Scores turn up to pay their respects to Californian Indian American family that perished in car crash

Featured & Cover Scores turn up to pay their respects to Californian Indian American family that perished in car crash

Friends, neighbors, colleagues, students, teachers, the school principal and almost the entire community gathered by the dozens at Val Vista Community Park, Pleasanton, California to remember the Indian American family that was killed in a horrific car crash on April 24. Flowers, candles, balloons and photos of victims were laid for all to pay their respects.

The police have not released the names of the victims. But the friends of the victims’ family holding a ‘Remembrance Ceremony’ named the father as Tarun George, his wife Rincy George, and their two children Rowan, an eighth grader at Hart Middle School and Aaron, a second grader at Donlon Elementary School. The memorial was organized by friends and community members.

Students were seen wiping the tears. They remembered their friends as members of a happy family. The immediate family is yet to arrive from India. Tarun, it is learned, was the eldest son of his parents, and worked as Senior Director, Customer Services at Chargepoint in Santa Clara, California.

The City of Pleasanton Police Department has called it a single-vehicle accident that occurred around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24 on Foothill Road near Stoneridge Drive. It resulted in the deaths of all four. The investigation is ongoing; however, the police suspect speeding may have been a factor. The vehicle appears to have lost control and collided with a large oak tree.

Janet Gates, principal at Donlon Elementary School where Rowan attended until fifth grade before moving to middle school and Aaron was a second grader, spoke at the memorial. She told indica, “Both were sweet boys and so were their parents. They were an integral part of the community. Students, even the little ones, are here at the memorial, apart from the adults. It shows how much a part of the community they were,” Gates said.

Friends of Rowan described him to indica as smart and helpful, with one friend rememberig how he had shared an ice-cream with him before saying bye to each other on Wednesday, the day of the accident. Geetha Rajagopal, a friend of Rincy George, told indica that her son Shravan went to the same school. The last time she met her was during Rowan’s birthday in May last year. “They are such a sweet family I always saw Rincy’s smiling face and the kids were very nice. The whole family was very caring.”

Geetha described Tarun George as “a jolly person.” She said, “Our kids used to go celebrate Halloween with them and Tarun would dress up as well. He would take the kids out for trick-or-treating.”

Shravan said Rowan was his best friend. He told indica, “We were in same class. He was always energetic and I never saw him angry. He was super positive and ready to help. He was in advanced math and wanted to be an engineer.”

One day before they died, Aaron had a musical performance and his parents were invited. The whole second grade was part of Program Zoo, where students sang about different animals. “Even though we have 740 kids, it’s a big hole in our community, we are a pretty close community. These older kids have known Rowan since 3rd grade and a lot of them know each other.”

Gates and other teachers who attended sang ‘Amazing Grace’, while children released white balloons into the sky. Aakash Yendluri, an eighth grader who knew Rowan since fourth grade, told indica, “He often helped me during class, especially math. We were friends and he was kind. He was a good a student.” The day the incident happened, they had Kona ice cream together at school. “There was an ice cream truck at school and we both ordered. We bought it for $5 and he liked it a lot. He ordered a mixture of cherry and raspberry.”

He said that was the last time they spoke. “He had a bike and he biked away home…” and added after a pause, “We used to play video games after school. He used to come to my place around 4 pm…”

Nita Bhaliya, a close friend who lived in Pleasanton before moving to another city, told indica that her elder son Kirti and Rowan learned Taekwondo in Pleasanton, and they were friends since fourth grade. “Even though we have moved, this is where the kids still met. We visited each other during birthdays and on special occasions,” Bhaliya said.

Krish, another good friend of Rowan, told indica, “He was the happiest person ever. I never never saw him getting angry. We shared chocolate, and we used to go trick-or-treating. We played sports together until seventh grade, then I moved to another school.”

Krish’s mother said the next day he could not sleep as he kept thinking of Rowan. The challenging part for kids is they have tests ongoing and they cannot concentrate. Geetha told indica, “Its hard for them to accept he is no more.”
Another 8th grader, Mason Cheong and Micah Carabollo, told indica, “We used to play basketball together during lunch and have fun. He was very smart in everything.”

Jayashekhar from the nearby community, said, “I know his neighbors and close friends and I remember seeing him. When this news broke on Friday morning… it was really shocking… the family who was living just a few meters away… the entire family losing their lives. My son goes to the same school and has common friends. They shared with me how Rowan’s friends were crying at school on learning about the accident.

Another neighbor Rajesh Panikarla, who never met Tarun, came with his friend Naresh Jampani. Another neighbor told indica, “Tarun and I used to work in the same company. He was the kind of person everyone wanted to interact with. He was the best team manager anyone can have and he was a software engineer. I have no words to say he… this is tragic…”

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