- The two friends, who are reportedly unrelated, were together in a car and were last seen around 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 1, getting out of their car near a storm drain that empties into the Passaic River.
At least five Indian Americans in New Jersey are confirmed dead after being caught in remnants of Hurricane Ida, one of the deadliest storms in the state’s history. Nidhi Rana, 18, and Ayush Rana, 21, both of Passaic; Sunanda Upadhye, 56, of Iselin; Dhanush Reddy, 31 of Edison; and Malathi Kanche, 46, of Raritan, perished in the storm that ravaged the northeast on Sept.1.
The bodies of Nidhi and Ayush were discovered in the Passaic River this week, and were identified by a state medical examiner in Newark, north jersey.com reported.
The two friends, who are reportedly unrelated, were together in a car and were last seen around 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 1, getting out of their car near a storm drain that empties into the Passaic River. Family members told northjersey.com that Nidhi and Ayush “were close friends, whose families immigrated from the same town in India.”
Rescue crews had been searching for them since last week when family members found Ayush’s car overturned near a flooding culvert at Brook and Main avenues, the north jersey.com report said.
Passaic Mayor Hector Lora told the Associated Press that a dozen boats were being used to aid the state police air unit in the search. NorthJersey.com reported that Nidi Rana is a commuter student at Seton Hall University where she was studying to become a physician’s assistant,, while Ayush Rana had just transferred to Montclair State University but had not yet attended classes. Both formerly attended Passaic High School, played tennis, NJ.com reported. When the city held an open prom last spring for students who graduated during the pandemic, northjersey.com said Nidhi and Ayush were crowned king and queen. “The two were inseparable, and their families remained close,” the report added.
Nidhi’s sister Disha told north jersey.com that she was home the night of the storm. “She was just starting to do homework.” Disha said Ayush picked up her sister at 8 p.m. “I just let her go even though it was raining,” she said, “She’s usually never home. She spends a lot of time with her friends and with Ayush.”
When Nidhi didn’t return past midnight, Disha and her family went looking for her and Ayush. They found the car at the culvert, the pair’s last known location, she told northjersey.com. Disha was surprised to see the car flipped. “I had thought they’d be in the car waiting for the water to go down.”
Upadhye was drowned while walking to her home on Gill Lane early on Sept. 2 morning, Woodbridge police told local media. She was reported missing by her husband early that morning when she didn’t come home from work. When officers and the fire department began a search of the flooded area, they found Upadhye’s body near the Cooper Avenue Park in Iselin, mycentraljersey.com reported.
Reddy was reportedly killed when he was swept into a 36-inch storm sewer in South Plainfield, according to a statement from South Plainfield Mayor Matthew Anesh. While the rescue team managed to pull one man downstream in Piscataway, Reddy’s body was found on Sept. 1 morning in a wooded area behind in Piscataway.
Kanche, who was driving back after dropping her son at Rutgers University with her daughter, was caught in the flash floodwaters on Route 22 in Bridgewater, Kanche’s family member Mansi Mago told Bridgewater Patch. The mother-daughter duo was in the front of a Lexus dealership, and they decided to get out of the car. Kanche’s daughter swam to the dealership and was rescued, Mansi said. However, Kanche did not know how to swim and was last seen near the dealership. Her death was confirmed by the family on social media on Sept. 2 after her body was traced.