Surrey community devastated after deadly crash rips apart restaurant-owning family (with video, gallery)

Published: April 29, 2013

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

A Surrey man and his twin children are left “motherless” after a horrific crash on Sunday tore his family apart, claiming five of his loved ones.

Jolly Sachdeva, of the 7500 Scott Plaza’s family-run business Sachdeva Sweets and Restaurant, is left mourning the death of his wife, Reena, five-year-old son Aanish, three-year-old daughter Jessica, sister Neelam and 68-year-old mothe Vidya. The family was returning from a religious ceremony in Surrey when a Dodge Caravan allegedly ran through a red light at 176 Street and 32 Avenue around 11 a.m., colliding with the Sachdevas’ 1994 Toyota Corolla, killing all five passengers instantly and scattering debris for more than 100 metres.

By Monday, most remnants of the grisly crash were removed, except for a small makeshift memorial of bouquets, candles and a stuffed animal amid the small shards of glass along the construction-laden intersection.

About 20 kilometres northwest of the crash site, neighbouring businesses of the family’s restaurant were left shocked and grief-struck — Sachdeva Sweets a frequent spot for lunch and dinner breaks.

According to Dr. Inderjit Dadiala, who works as a dentist two doors down, not only are Jolly and his baby twins left utterly alone, but Jolly’s sister Neelam has also left behind two children.

“It’s so sad to see so many kids motherless now,” she said from her dental office.

Dadiala has worked next to the Sachdevas for 11 years and often visited their restaurant — a place for her to unwind and enjoy an evening tea. She recalled the young Aanish and Jessica riding their bicycles behind the plaza.

“They were so cute,” she said. “The husband is in shock … it’s just difficult to go through this.”

Nearby at the family home, a group of sombre neighbours stood on their driveway, heads bowed, turning away media.

According to Radio India reporter Gurpreet Singh, many friends and neighbours filtered through the home, but Jolly was “too emotional” to share his grief.

Hairstylist at the 7500 Scott Plaza Prabjhot Dulk just cut Aanish’s hair two weeks ago and last saw the “very happy” family Saturday — celebrating Aanish’s fifth birthday.

“(It’s) so sad,” she said, letting out a deep sigh. “(The kids are) so sweet. The whole family’s very nice.”

Dulk is used to visiting the restaurant every day for a snack and friendly chatter.

But that routine did not take place Monday — the restaurant shuttered, its counters empty, the shop blanketed in darkness. A bouquet of orange flowers sat in the door handle, a sheet of paper taped above it, warning customers “close for few days family emergency sorry” scribbled in black marker.

Regular customer Harbhajan Rana stood before the sign Monday afternoon, shielding her scarf from the wind.

“It’s very bad,” she said about the tragedy, as she peered into the establishment.

Rana, who lives across the street, would often see Aanish playing with his father on her frequent visits to the restaurant.

“Beautiful kid,” she said.

Surrey RCMP Insp. Lee Chanin told media he’s encountered “nothing like this” in his career.

“(It’s a) profound tragedy that has affected a Surrey family, whose lives have been altered forever,” he said. “Three generations including a grandmother, a mother, an aunt and two children were taken (Sunday).”

Chanin had few updates as officers were still investigating the scene. The 46-year-old man from Langley who was driving the van is the sole survivor and in hospital, listed in serious but stable condition.

As of Monday afternoon, no charges were laid.

Sunday’s crash marked Surrey’s fourth fatal collision this year, which have claimed a total of eight lives.

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

Surrey crash

Picture 1 of 25

Jolly Sachdeva, of the Surrey family-run business Sachdeva Sweets and Restaurant, is left mourning the death of his wife, Reena, five-year-old son Aanish, three-year-old daughter Jessica, sister Neelam and 68-year-old mother Vidya following a horrific crash Sunday. Here, a bouquet of flowers graces the door of the restaurant on Monday, April 29, 2013. Ric Ernst/PNG

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