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Windsor's Sikh community grapples with deaths of Sikh students near Petrolia

The bodies of three young international students killed in a violent Friday collision near Petrolia are now being returned to their grieving families in the Punjab state in north India.

Kulwinder Kang, a Sikh temple spokesperson in Windsor, said the remains of Tanveer Singh, Gurvinder Singh and Harpreet Kour were being sent home with the help of St. Clair College, where the three teens were studying business. One of the bodies, Kang said, was already on the way home.

“They are grieving. All (of them were) so young,” Kang said. “We just talked to (the families). One guy’s parents, he didn’t even believe it. He was still in shock over what happened.” According to The Tribune, a major English language newspaper in India, Tanveer Singh’s father took out a significant loan – about $28,000 – to send his son to study in Canada on a student visa. Tanveer Singh had found a job in Canada and talked to his parents over video “daily,” according to a Tribune interview with his father.

The same newspaper also reported that Gurvinder Singh and Harpreet Kour were married. Kang said he and other regular attendees of Windsor’s Gurdwara Khalsa Prakash temple gathered Sunday to pray for the three 19-year-old victims.

A fourth St. Clair business student, also in the car at the time of the crash, escaped serious injury. John Fairley, a spokesperson for the college, called the deaths “a big hit to the St. Clair family.” “We all promised to the other students (to help),” Kang said. “We’re doing a seminar. We’re doing how much we can, right? Every Sunday, to explain to the other students this is a new country and they’re so young.”

The overnight collision happened just after midnight Oct. 4 on Oil Heritage Road, just south of Oil Springs. The vehicle involved in the crash was found crumpled beside the road, which veers sharply east before continuing south toward Chatham-Kent. The three students were pronounced dead at the scene. The Lambton OPP later said the three victims were not wearing seatbelts. The rural police also suggested a red vehicle and moving van may have been in the area around the time of the collision, roughly 1:30 a.m.

Oil Heritage Road has been the scene of two other fatal collisions this year. In May a 42-year-old Michigan man missed a sharp turn near Douglas Line and later in August, a 21-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed by a transport truck.

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