From Newsday Dec. 28, via Sikhnews:
From Queens to a rural district in his native India, word of the Yellow cab driver’s death spread quickly Tuesday.
Gurbaj Singh immigrated five years ago to Richmond Hill, where he lived and died.
Singh worked a grueling overnight shift as a cabbie, hoping to bring his wife and children to the United States. He died early Monday trapped in that Yellow cab, which became became engulfed in flames after it was broadsided by a minivan that ran a red light just blocks from Singh’s 118th Street home, police said.
Tuesday, friends and family members across oceans planned one last act: to bring Singh’s eldest son, Kabul Singh, 17, to New York so he could preside over his father’s cremation. According to their Sikh tradition, the eldest son must light the funeral pyre.
“What can I say to you in this time? It’s so difficult,” said his nephew, Shamsher Singh, 30, via telephone in India from Kurukshetra Tehsil Pehowa.
A local taxi driver’s group is raising money and has sent letters to elected officials and embassies both here and in India, asking for help to bring Kabul and the rest of the family here.
Singh’s wife, Lakhwinder Kaur, 39, and his two sons, Jaswinder and Kabul, all need visitor’s visas. Kabul and Jaswinder also need passports.
“It’s a big blow to them,” Shamsher Singh said.
The ceremony normally would take place in three to five days, but will likely be held next week because of difficulty expediting the request during the holidays, said Bhairavi Desai, president of the Taxi Worker’s Alliance, which represents Yellow cab drivers.
Tuesday afternoon, vows of support started coming in from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), among others.
“Mr. Singh was living the American dream and, at the very least, deserves a burial in keeping with his religious tradition,” Schumer said in a statement. “We are going to do everything we can to get his family here and make that happen.”
Liu, who has helped other immigrants with the visa process during tragedies, said: “This is tragic enough, without having to deal with paperwork issues.”
Police Tuesday continued their search for a suspect in the collision, which occurred at the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and 114th Street. Police Tuesday night were searching for the driver of the minivan, who fled the scene on foot.
Meanwhile, it was left to Singh’s only relative in the United States, Muntiar Singh, a cousin from Richmond Hill, to identify his corpse.
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