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Published: Monday, 5/12/2008

6 Michigan residents die in I-90 minivan crash on Ohio-Pennsylvania border

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rescue crews survey the scene of a crash in West Springfield,
Pa. Six of seven people were killed when a minivan crashed
near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
Rescue crews survey the scene of a crash in West Springfield, Pa. Six of seven people were killed when a minivan crashed near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Pa. A minivan carrying a group of Indian computer programmers and their wives on the way to a Niagara Falls vacation flipped and crashed in western Pennsylvania, killing six of seven people on board, officials say.

The programmers worked for Syntel Inc. of Troy, Mich., an information technology contract services provider.

The van crossed a median on I-90 and was hit by an oncoming car about 4 p.m. Saturday, police say. They said it was about three miles from the Pennsylvania-Ohio border when it crossed the highway and began rolling, coming to rest on its roof.

It was then struck by an oncoming westbound car, whose driver was treated at a hospital Saturday night, Pennsylvania state police Cpl. Kevin Havern said.

The crash killed driver Kaushik Deb, 26, of Troy, Mich., and five of his six passengers Manoj Jharia, 35; Mili Jharia, 28; Nitin Agarwal, 29; Swati Agarwal, 25, and Shubham Choudory, 24.

The sole survivor in the minivan, Nitin Gupta, 28, was sitting in the front passenger seat, Corporal Havern said. Mr. Gupta was treated at a hospital Saturday.

Calls to a Farmington Hills telephone listing for Mr. Gupta were not answered yesterday evening.

Mr. Deb, Mr. Choudory, Manoj Jharia, and Nitin Agarwal worked as software writers for Syntel, said Jonathan James, vice president for marketing and investor relations. Our sympathies are extended to the families of the victims on this very sad day, he told The Associated Press. Our primary concern is ensuring the families get all the care and support they need during this very difficult time.

Mr. James said he could not immediately provide the Michigan and Indian hometowns of the victims. The company has started a memorial fund for the victims families and is considering whether to bring in grief counselors, he said. Family members in India have been notified of the deaths, he said.

The seven were traveling with another van carrying six people that was a few minutes ahead of them.

The two groups had just left a rest stop and traveled about a quarter-mile when the accident occurred, said Kranthi Bandaru, who was traveling in the second van.

We left them about 10 minutes before they drove on, Ms. Bandaru told the Erie Times-News. We continued down the road when we received a cell phone call from Nitin that there was an accident. That s when we turned around.

State police said there was no apparent cause of the crash. Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said he has ordered toxicology tests of the minivan s driver.

Syntel is an information technology company with 27 offices and 12,000 employees worldwide and 2007 revenues of $337.7 million, according to its Web site.

The four employees who were killed had worked as software writers at the offices of various Detroit-area companies served by Syntel, Mr. James said. He said the trip was a personal vacation and not a company-sponsored excursion or business trip.



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