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Indian American Siblings in California Killed in Car Crash by Drunk Driver a Week Before Christmas

Indian American Siblings in California Killed in Car Crash by Drunk Driver a Week Before Christmas

  • Akshata and Arjit Chettupalli were returning from a party with their parents when their car was hit by an SUV driven by a 20-year-old under the influence.

At a candlelight vigil held in Chatsworth, California on Dec. 26, friends and family described Indian American siblings Akshata and Arijit Chettupalli as being “extremely talented, focused, and gifted.” The teenagers were killed by a suspected drunk driver in a crash one week before Christmas. They were returning on Dec. 18 from a get-together with their parents – Ramachandra and Rajani Reddy — when their car was hit by an SUV driven by a 20-year-old under the influence (DUI). 

Arjit, 14, an eighth grader, died hours after the crash. His 16-year-old sister Akshata — who was nicknamed Lucky — was taken off life support on Christmas Day after being pronounced brain dead. She was a student at North Hollywood High School. The parents are reportedly out of danger and are expected to recover physically.

According to news reports, the driver, a 20-year-old woman, was reportedly driving under the influence, and been arrested on murder charges.

At the Dec. 26 candlelight vigil, Ram Chettupalli said he doesn’t have “enough words to describe” his kids,” ABC7 reported. “My daughter was amazing and my son was, in a simple word, a kind of a human computer,” ABC7 quoted him as saying. “They were very disciplined. They never did a single thing for society.”

Meanwhile, friends and family members are raising funds to support the parents “during the inconceivable tragedy of losing both kids in a DUI involved accident.” Along with supporting medical and funeral expenses, the funds raised will also “commemorate these young and talented kids by establishing scholarships in their name, as Akshata was aspiring to join an Ivy league next year.”

According to the GoFundMe page, the teens’ father got his green card last year after 16 years and had just bought their home. He and his wife “are very active in the community and volunteer for several organizations,” the GoFundMe page said, adding that Rajani volunteers as a teacher in Manabadi to teach kids Telugu. 

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Talking about the kids, the GoFundMe page said that “in addition to getting high GPAs,” both Akshata and Arijit “earned numerous awards in tennis, chess, karate, robotics,” as well as “presidential volunteer service awards consecutively for three years.”

Noting that the “accident happened in a split second,” friends and family said, “it is heart-wrenching to see them go through this devastating situation and we want to help them keep the memory of their kids alive.”

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