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Hundreds mourn death of 4 Indians in crash


SCRANTON, PA — Mourners attending the funerals for four of the five people killed in what authorities call a wrong-way crash on a northeastern Pennsylvania interstate say their communities are devastated by the loss.

About 500 people from the south Asian communities in the region attended the joint funeral services on January 30 at Chipak Funeral Home.

Vinodchandra Patel, 68; Komal Vyas, 30; Bhaveshkumar Patel, 42; and Shilpa Patel, 29, were from India and were co-workers at a Scott Township factory. They were killed and another person was injured as they were returning home from work on January 23.

The Pennsylvania State Police say their vehicle was struck head-on by a car that apparently was heading north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 81. A passenger in that car was also killed. Funeral services for 32-year-old Ashley Wheeler, of Scranton, was held last week.

Shashikant Kalariya of Waverly, who knew Vyas and Bhaveshkumar Patel, said the Indian community was reeling from the accident.

"So sad," Kalariya said. "And the way it happened. Those people were here (in America), five years, 10 years, to get a better life."

Hina Patel, of Scranton, also knew Vyas and called her "a good human being."

"It’s very heartbreaking you know. She definitely didn’t deserve this," Hina Patel said.

Two mourners displayed framed portraits of the married couple, whose survivors include an infant daughter and a young son.

Kuldeep Dhaliwal, of Dupont, said he didn’t know the victims but came out of respect for them and to support their survivors.

"Those little babies (will) never know mom and dad," she said.

Gennadiy Manannikov, 28, of Lake Ariel, has been charged with multiple counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangering and traffic-related violations; prosecutors say more charges are possible.

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