The four members of the Sigma Beta Rho fraternity who died in a collision on I-275 early Sunday morning when an SUV driving in the wrong direction crashed into their vehicle were friends.
They were siblings, sons and brothers – both literally and to their fraternity members.
Dammie Yesudhas, 21, was a mechanical engineering major from Melbourne who was planning to graduate this spring, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Jobin Kuriakose, 21, was a former USF student and a political science major from Orlando. Imtiyaz Ilias, who went by Jim, 20, was a health science major from Fort Myers, who joined the fraternity in fall. Ankeet Patel, 22, was a finance major from Melbourne who also joined the fraternity last fall.
Raj Patel, the fraternity president of the Sigma Beta Rho USF chapter, said the fraternity is grieving over the passing of the four, and have united as brothers to get through the tragedy together.
“We are devastated by the loss of our brothers. Our prayers and condolences go out to not only the family members of the brothers as well as the driver,” he said. “This is a tragic accident that took the lives of four very talented young men who had so much more to live for.”
According to the Tampa Tribune, the body of the driver of the SUV, which along with the Hyundai transporting the four men erupted into flames upon contact, was burned so severely that the identity has yet to be determined. The article reported that where the car entered the northbound lane or why may not be known, according to a Florida Highway Patrol public information officer, who did not return calls from The Oracle on Monday.
Out of respect for the families, the fraternity collectively decided to not share personal comments or stories about the deceased for the time being. Patel said he wanted the families to be the first to speak on the behalf of those lost.
An online fundraiser to raise $40,000 to cover the costs of laying the four to rest exceeded donations within less than 24 hours of going up. At the time of print, the gofundme.com page had collected more than $70,899 in donations from 1,951 people.
“We appreciate the support given to us by USF and the USF community, students and faculty alike,” Patel said.
Sigma Beta Rho will hold a candle light vigil for the victims at USF Marshall Student Center on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.