Atul Vyas, Everlasting be Your Memory

Via our NewsTab, word that one of the 25 victims of Friday’s tragic head-on train collision in Southern California was Desi (thanks, Kusala): atul vyas.PNG

Atul Vyas scored in the top 1 percent on his medical school entry exams, but he was having trouble answering one question on applications to Harvard and Duke: Describe a hardship you’ve overcome.
“He said, ‘I’ve not had any, I’ve had a blessed life,’” Vijay Vyas said of his son Sunday.
Atul Vyas never finished the application, never came closer his goal of working in biomechanics. On Friday, he was among 25 killed when a Metrolink commuter train collided with a freight train in nearby Chatsworth. He was 20.
The accident was the nation’s deadliest rail disaster in 15 years.
The train, which was carrying 222 people when it crashed during afternoon rush hour, was headed north toward Ventura County from downtown Los Angeles. [AP]

This is just heart-breaking:

…Atul’s elder brother, who lives in London, was flying into Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon. His parents did not tell him why they were summoning him to America, only that there was a family emergency.
“He has no idea,” Vijay Vyas said. “I said, ‘I don’t want to discuss it, just show up.’” [AP]

Though Atul probably could have attended school elsewhere, a cousin mentioned that he chose CMC because it was close to his family; he took the train back to see them every two to three weeks.

Atul Vyas was on the Metrolink train on his way home to Simi Valley from Claremont McKenna College, where he was preparing for a career as a medical doctor. Only 20, he was interviewing for a graduate program next year at MIT and Harvard that combined science and math.
“He was a thoroughly brilliant kid, flying high,” said his father, Vijay Vyas, an engineer. “Ask his professors.” [LAT]
Vyas skipped sixth grade, scored the highest SAT score in his high school’s history and studied math, physics and premed at Claremont McKenna College.
“He never had to study,” his father Vijay Vyas said. “When he was in 10th grade, I figured out he was smarter than me.” [link]

Such a routine gesture…how many of us have done this? All of us.

…As he passed through downtown Los Angeles, Atul called his mother to let her know when to pick him up in Simi Valley, his father said. “When he didn’t arrive, she called me frantic. It’s ridiculous. He’s still a baby.” [LAT]

…I used to do that every day, when I took the shuttle home from school. These parents could be our own, this could have been any one of us.

While his academic achievements were quite impressive, it’s the little details about someone which really affect me. According to a Facebook group set up in his memory, Vyas loved “Weezy”, a.k.a. rapper Li’l Wayne. He woke up in the afternoon and complained that it was early (word, Atul). He made time to dote on younger cousins, who looked up to him. My heart turned to mush, when I read his father’s thoughts on one of his hobbies:

Atul Vyas enjoyed sports, including basketball, and “all kinds of weird dancing. You know these kids, they’re into weird things,” his father said. Though of Indian descent, Atul was inducted into a Latino club at school because “they loved him so much. He was a very popular kid…[LAT]

I know some of you may have known him, because that’s how connected we all are, even in a country as large as this. If you did know him, I am so sorry for your loss. If you didn’t, I’m sorry for our loss; Atul Vyas sounds like an extraordinary person, and I’m sure that like me, the rest of you are sad that his life was cut short in such a senseless, horrifying way. My thoughts and prayers are with all who grieve.

“…this is beyond absurd,” (his father) said. “They say only the good die young, and it’s absurdly true.”[LAT]

35 thoughts on “Atul Vyas, Everlasting be Your Memory

  1. I’m from Simi Valley and although I didn’t know Atul, I’m so saddened by how this accident has affected our community. I’m keeping his family and the rest of the affected families in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. 1 · Maya said

    I’m from Simi Valley and although I didn’t know Atul, I’m so saddened by how this accident has affected our community.

    For those who may not realize what Maya means, when she talks about how the tragedy affected her community…

    Of the 25 people who were killed when a Metrolink commuter train collided with a freight locomotive on Friday afternoon in the Chatsworth area northwest of downtown Los Angeles, at least eight were from Simi Valley, a quiet community a few miles west of the wreck site known for its horse ranches and the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum. [nyt]

    All: please keep your comments respectful.

    Often, family and friends of the deceased find our posts about their loved ones, sometimes years after the fact. Ask yourself how they might feel if they read your comment. If you can’t say anything nice…

  3. 6 · Maya said

    Did I say something wrong? I’m sorry if my comments were somehow misconstrued!

    No, not at all. I’m sorry I gave you that impression. I’m referring to a comment we just deleted. I’ll amend my initial comment so that no one thinks I was aiming that your way. Sorry, Maya.

  4. So terribly sad.

    The comments of him calling his mum are so poignant as yes a lot of us can relate to that.

    All my condolences to the family and the other families/friends affected by this tragedy.

  5. Thanks for posting, Anna. I’m not sure why, but all the little bio vignettes that are posted after a tragedy like this really get to me — maybe because it just brings home that it really could be any of us, anytime. This one gets me I think just because I work around undergrads all day and I know what that “heading home for the weekend” routine is like (also because of my own commuting history, and the fact that this accident was somewhat close to home for me).

    There’s no rhyme or reason sometimes — all the more reason to remember to be loving at every moment; we never know when we’ll be seeing or talking to someone for the last time. Condolences to everyone involved.

  6. I too live in Simi Valley and am saddened by this tragedy. Few years back, I used to work in a company in downtown LA and used to take this same 3.35pm train back from Union station. My deepest condolences to the Vyas family.

  7. very sad.

    maybe because it just brings home that it really could be any of us, anytime.

    very true.

    It’s events like this that make me seriously question the addage “everything happens for a reason”

  8. He was an amazing person, I didn’t know him as well as others. But he cheered me up once when I was crying. He never asked why I was crying he just started talking to me. Another time he helped me with math homework. I sang at his graduation with choir as I graduated a year after him and his speech was one I still remember. I won’t say anything about the tragedy itself because there really is nothing to say that will stop his family and friends from hurting. But he was and is an amazing person that I’ll always remember.My husband and myself are in absolute shock as that was the train I took home from FIDM. The only reason I wasn’t on it is because I got pregnant and was too ill to attend school, and after having my my daughter I have yet to return because I’m busy enjoying her. If it wasn’t for her. I might not be here.

  9. 13 · kay said

    Meanwhile, another terrible loss reported here:

    Please do not use condolence/in memoriam threads as a means for submitting tips which should either be emailed to us or posted to the news tab.

  10. I met Atul in Montreal last semester while he was on exchange here at McGill. I can tell you that he was a great kid, who had a very bright future in his hands. A kid who knew how to cheer one up and how to be a good friend…Atul will be dearly missed in Montreal and anywhere he has ever been…RIP my good friend.

  11. what beautiful memorial posts you write, anna. nearly a year and a half later, i still remember that minal loved earrings…

    may atul’s memory indeed be everlasting, and may his family and friends have all the peace and strength they could need, during this time and all the time to come.

  12. “Jaanewale Kabhi nahi Aaate – Jaane waleki Yaad aati Hain”. Mere 20 years and his “Yatra” ended. Very sad. May Atul rest in Peace.

  13. my heart breaks for his family. i hope for them a time of healing, when thoughts of atul will memories of joy and will no longer bring tears of sadness. his mother was my daughters teacher, and is a woman i admire very much. she was so proud of him. my most sincere condolences.

  14. what beautiful memorial posts you write, anna.

    I second that.

    Atul sounds like a great kid. I understand why you’ve chosen to write about him — he’s desi. But if he wasn’t, I’d still want to know about him.

  15. I didn’t know him personally, but had a class with his older brother. My heart goes out out to his family and loved ones.

    Here is information on the memorial service:

    Thursday (9/18/08) from 3-7 pm at Cornerstone Church.

    The address is 2080 Winifred Rd. Simi Valley, CA 93063 if you need to get directions.

  16. The next person who tries to threadjack or submit a tip via this post will be banned. We did a post on the Delhi bombings and had to shut down comments because you couldn’t play nicely. There is a news tab, use it.

  17. We went to college together; he will certainly be missed by the CMC community. My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones… Rest in peace Atul

    “And I’m grindin til I’m tired They say, ‘You ain’t grindin til you tired’ So I’m grindin with my eyes wide, looking to find a way through the day a light for the night Dear Lord, you done took so many of my people, I’m just wondering why you haven’t taken my life? Like what the hell am I doin right?” -Lil Wayne aka Wheezy

  18. The Vyas family is using a scholarship charity fund from Atul’s college- Clarement Mckenna. There will be donation evelopes at the service.

  19. I met Atul through his father Vijay who worked closely with me for many years. He was a very impressive young man with a clear and dedicated mind focussed on doing something great in the world. I suspect this is not only a tragedy for Vijay and his family, but for our world as well.

  20. It is heartbreaking when such a vibrant, young life is taken away from this earth. We can only offer our humble condolences to the family.

  21. I attended high school with Atul and was in the Wind ensemble with him for two years. I didn’t find out about what had happened to him until a couple of days later. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the funeral I was in Louisiana helping a unit train for an upcoming deployment overseas. My heart goes out to the Vyas family.

  22. This may be a very last post, but the New Year just passed and I often think of Atul. I have his picture hung up on my wall along with another person I knew, Henry Farner. I look and their pictures and feel sadness. I went to High School with Atul and graduated with him. I never personally knew him, but seeing him at school and at other social functions, I could tell he was funny, charming, smart and very sweet. I miss him and regret not knowing him better. I went to his memorial service and saw how broken hearted his family was. I grieve for them for the the life Atul deserved to have lived. He was the best of us.