Fresno crash claims five Union City victims

Five of the six people who died as the result of a collision between a Mercedes-Benz and a Peterbilt truck in western Fresno County last week were from Union City, a Fresno County sheriff’s spokesman said today.

California Highway Patrol officials said the 2009 Mercedes, which was carrying the five Union City residents, was traveling east on West Manning Avenue approaching the intersection with state Highway 33 at about 9 a.m. on Sept. 5.

It failed to stop for the stop sign at the intersection and drove into the left side of a 2013 Peterbilt truck that was traveling north on Highway 33, causing the truck to overturn.

Fresno County sheriff’s deputies who responded to the collision were able to remove two of the men in the Mercedes before it became engulfed in flames, according to the CHP.

The five Union City men were pronounced dead at the scene.

CHP Officer Steve Schuh said it’s not clear which of the men was driving the Mercedes, which was registered in Hayward, at the time of the collision.

Fresno County sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti identified the men as Vinod Dhammy, 66, Kuldip Kumar, 64, Surinder Kumar, 63, Narinder Kumar, 55, and Deepak Kumar, 49.

Deepak Kumar was a radio astrologer for Desi 1170 AM in San Jose, according to the station.

The radio station said in a statement on its Facebook page:

“We are saddened to announce that Master Deepak Ji, our dear friend and an integral part of our radio family and community, has passed away.”

The station said, “Our hearts – heavy and pained – are grieving for Master Deepak Ji’s family and the family members and friends of the four gentlemen who lost their lives in the car crash.. .. Master Deepak Ji, your Desi 1170 AM Radio family misses your blessed soul and warm presence.”

The driver of the Peterbilt truck, 58-year-old Layne Fletcher of Dinuba in Tulare County, was flown by helicopter to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno after the collision but died on Sunday, Botti said.

Schuh said it appears that neither drugs nor alcohol were factors in the fatal collision.