Indian American radio astrologer Deepak Kumar, also known as Master Deepak Ji, was killed on the morning of Sept. 5 in a car crash near Fresno, California, along with four others.
The Fresno County Coroner’s office has identified only two of the four remaining victims who happen to be Indian Americans Vinod Dhammy, 66, and Kuldip Kumar, 64, both of Union City, California.
Although Master Deepak Ji was one of the victims, Tony Botti, a spokesman for the Fresno County Coroner, said that it was still hard to identify the body as “they were all burned very badly” adding that they “are having to rely on DNA and dental records to identify the remaining victims.”
But Gwen Do, a spokeswoman for Desi 1170 AM, where Master Deepak Ji conducted his biweekly radio show, confirmed the death of the astrologer
According to reports from the Central Division of the California Highway Patrol, on the morning of Sept. 5, the driver of a 2009 Mercedes failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of Manning Road and SR 33 in the town of Mendota, about 36 miles from Fresno and the driver of the Mercedes drove directly into the left side of a 2013 Peterbuilt big rig, causing it to overturn.
The California Highway Patrol has identified the driver of the big rig as Wayne Fletcher, 58, but had not named the driver of the Mercedes as investigation is still underway.
Fletcher, who was transporting gravel, sustained major injuries and was immediately transported to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, where he is listed in critical condition.
Officers on the scene were able to remove two passengers from the Mercedes before it caught fire and erupted in flames.
CHP Sgt. Matt Zulim told ABC 30 that the collision was one of the worst wrecks he has ever seen, “when the trailer of the big rig landed on top of the Mercedes, the Mercedes caught fire and was fully engulfed,” he said.
Do said Master Deepak Ji conducted his radio show “Mahakaal Living with Master Deepak Ji” every Monday and Thursday from 2-4 p.m. for the past seven years, where listeners could contact the astrologer on air with their questions.
“It was a very popular show. He was very well loved,” said Do, noting that the call-in lines were always busy throughout the program.
Desi 1170 AM conducted a day-long tribute to Master Deepak Ji on Sept. 6, asking listeners to share their reminiscences of the radio host who had no wife or children, but did have a nephew who lives in the Bay Area.
Desi 1170 AM also posted a statement on Facebook saying “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 yesterday morning. Once we acquire more details regarding a public funeral or the incident, we will announce the news on Desi 1170 AM. 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.”
According to his profile on mahakaalliving.com, Master Deepak Ji began practicing Vedic astrology at the age of 15 and met with gurus and sadhus in India and Nepal; he studied in New Delhi at the All India Federation of Astrologers and in lived in the U.S. for 25 years, combining the principles of Western and Vedic astrology.