PHOENIX — A mother and father from India were visiting their two sons in Arizona when a tragic accident killed the family of four.
Authorities said the family was on their way to visit Sedona when the car they were in was hit by a tractor-trailer that had run a stop sign. The driver of the truck told authorities his brakes had failed.
The Department of Public Safety identified the victims as 54-year-old Gnanappan Nagarajan, 45-year-old Vijaya Lakshmi-Gopal, and their two sons, 24-year-old Athish Nagarajan and 23-year-old Dhinesh Nagarajan.
"Two of the victims were parents of the two younger men, one was driving, and they were on a trip to Sedona, they were visiting their sons, that's especially heartbreaking they were an on a family outing when this occurred," said Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves.
After impact, Graves told 12News that both vehicles went off the road and caught fire. The semi landed on top of the family's car.
12News spoke with a friend of Athish Nagarajan, who wasn't ready to be interviewed but said his friend was one-of-a-kind. They said that he was a talented and smart individual who had big things in store.
A local Indian community Leader also told 12News Athish worked at Lucid Motors and that he had been promoted quickly within the company and was a global supply manager.
Genuine, positive and talented are all words used to describe Dhinesh Nagarajan.
"Dhinesh was so selfless," said Lily Rich.
"It's just so sad, you know, he was so young," said Quinne Talbot.
Many who knew the victims are speechless, busy trying to understand why.
"My memories are so special with him," said Rich. "My freshman year at ASU would not have been as amazing if I hadn't met him."
Dhinesh and Ahtish were living in Tempe, their family was abroad in India. Dhinesh was a singer, musician and an RA at ASU last year. Rich, now a sophomore at ASU, said Dhinesh was family.
"He made it feel like home to me," she said. "I'm from Missouri, so traveling to Arizona and starting college is hard and scary. And having that somebody, like I felt like I could go to him at all times, and Dhinesh made it so clear he was a friend to us."
Talbot agreed. She said he helped her multiple times with schoolwork and was always someone she could talk with. She said she saw him just a few weeks ago while on campus, so hearing the news was devastating.
"He was very talented, a genuine soul," she said. "It breaks my heart that he's no longer with us, but he's watching over us."
They and so many others are trying to come to terms with what happened. And as they try and make sense of it, they say Dhinesh will be greatly missed, someone they will always remember.
"I'm sending so much love and prayers (to the family)," said Rich. "He was an amazing man who impacted so many people here at ASU, and I'm so lucky to have known him."
DPS said the investigation into the crash is ongoing. Impairment is not believed to be a factor in this crash.
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