By Chris De Benedetti
Staff Writer, Fremont Argus & Bay Area News Group
East Bay residents grieving over the recent death of a Fremont man known for his generosity have started a fundraising campaign and scheduled a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening to aid his family.
Tejinder Singh died Nov. 4 in a head-on, three-vehicle crash on Interstate 5 in Elk Grove, about 15 miles south of Sacramento. Also killed in the crash were Singh's mother-in-law, Piar Kaur; and family friend Kulwant Gill, said Sajjan Sahni, a family friend. Authorities have not identified a fourth person who died while driving another vehicle.
Friends of the family said that Singh's Ford Expedition crossed the center divider for unknown reasons and hit the other vehicle.
Seven were injured, including Singh's wife, Manjinder Kaur, and their oldest son, Nirmal Singh, 20. Both are in critical condition in a Davis hospital's intensive care unit. Their younger son, Amar Singh, 19, was released from the hospital last week after his minor injuries were treated.
Since the crash, friends of Amar and Nirmal Singh -- recent graduates of Fremont's Kennedy High School who now attend Cal State East Bay in Hayward -- have raised nearly $4,000 for the family with an online fund atwww.indiegogo.com/SinghFamilyFund.
Adam McGaughey, a family friend, said he and his friends started the fund to help the Singh family's finances and honor their longtime generosity.
"They've always had an open-door policy for their sons' friends, and they're the most helpful people you'll ever meet," said McGaughey, 19. "They've been incredibly helpful for anybody who was having financial trouble."
Tejinder Singh, who worked as a truck driver, was also generous with his time, giving advice to his sons' friends who were having trouble navigating the stormy seas of adolescence, McGaughey said. "Some of our friends saw him as a father figure and even called him, 'Dad,'" he said.
The family's health care plan is expected to pay just a fraction of the hospital bills, so a second fundraiser has been planned, friends said.
A benefit music concert has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at Cal State East Bay. Sponsored by Delta Sigma Phi, the college fraternity to which Amar and Nirmal Singh belong, the outdoor concert will feature student performances, according to friends of the family. A candlelight vigil will follow the concert.
The fundraising efforts will continue indefinitely because it's the kind of thing that the Singh family would do for others if the situations were reversed, said Megan Morrisey, who helped start the online fund.
"There are tons of ways to help in the long run, and we know that times are going to be hard for them," said Morrisey, a Kennedy High graduate. "This is going to be one of those tug-at-your-heartstrings situations."