Suburban families mourn loved ones after crash

2 killed in deadly crash
January 26, 2010 4:37:30 AM PST
Several suburban families are in mourning after two loved ones died when a van was struck by a truck on an Indiana highway over the weekend.The victims were part of an extended family living in the south suburbs.

The fatal crash took place on Sunday along Interstate 65 near the town of Franklin, Indiana which is 30 miles south of Indianapolis.

The Bridgeview home of one of the victims became a place for family and friends to congregate Monday and comfort his family.

Vijay Patel was killed in the crash as well as his best friend, Sujal Patel. They were part of a large group enjoying an annual festival in Atlanta when their road trip came to a tragic end.

Vijay and Sujal Patel were best friends, and part of an extended family that spent the weekend together driving from Bridgeview to Atlanta to take part in an annual kite-flying festival.

The family rented a full-sized Chevy passenger van to make the trip. On the way home, 18 people were in the van when something went wrong early Sunday morning outside of Indianapolis.

"We just stopped on the side for navigation, and the truck hit and we don't know what happened then," said Ajay, Vijay's younger brother.

The van was northbound on I-65 when investigators say it was pulling over on the shoulder. A semi just behind it was weaving on the road, then hit the rear of the van causing it to flip over.

Vijay and Sujal were sitting in the back of the van. Some passengers were critically injured. Others were okay. But everyone involved in the crash is still stunned.

"We were sleeping. Soon as the truck hit, we knew, we realized something bad happened," said Prakash Patel, cousin.

Vijay and Sujal were both 20 years old and in college. Most of the passengers in the van were between the ages of 6 and 22.

Piyush Patel was with 12 relatives in another rented passenger van about an hour behind the first one and received cell phone calls about the accident before they got to the scene. He says it was a tragic way to end a wonderful weekend.

"We had big time fun in Atlanta. All day, all kids. I cannot forget it. It's so sad," said Prakash Patel, cousin.

Two passengers from the van remain in an Indianapolis hospital in serious condition. The truck driver is 42-year-old Randall Chriscoe of North Carolina. He was treated for minor injuries.

Investigators say they are still trying to determine a cause of the crash and are waiting for toxicology results of both drivers.