Honey Kumar Malhan’s friends recall his caring nature and hardworking approach, especially from a phone call which was his last conversation before his death.
Punjabi truck driver Honey Kumar Malhan has died in a fatal accident in regional New South Wales in the early hours of November 12.
A resident of Truganina in the west of Melbourne, he is survived by his wife Kamaldeep Kaur and a five-year-old son.
In his early 30's, Mr Malhan’s friends remember him as a “very caring friend,” and a “hardworking person”.
SBS Punjabi spoke with the last person with whom Mr Malhan had a conversation, minutes before his truck met with the fatal accident.
The B-double truck that he was driving on the Hume Highway (which connects Victoria and New South Wales) on his way back home from Sydney after delivering freight, met with a deadly accident near Gundagai in New South Wales, in the early hours of November 12.
The post-mortem will be conducted today.
Paramjit Singh, also a Melbourne-based truck driver, said, “We left Melbourne for our destinations at the same time on the weekend. He was Sydney-bound while I was headed to Adelaide. As usual, during our drive, a few of us friends were laughing and joking in a conference call through our Bluetooth devices.”
Recounting his last conversation with Mr Malhan, Mr Singh sounded heartbroken because he won’t be able to talk to his friend ever again.
“Suddenly, I got another call and I put Honey on hold for a couple of minutes. After I finished, I went back to the call with Honey, but he wouldn’t answer it. That was the last I heard from him. He’ll never answer my calls now.”
A former colleague of Mr Malhan, Inveer Singh, almost broke down while recalling how he felt upon seeing his friend’s last remains at the accident site at Gundagai.
“When I saw his boots at the accident site, I remembered how they got soiled with paint many months back, when we worked together. I told him to buy new ones but he insisted on spending that money on his little son instead who always complained that his dad didn’t bring ‘candy’ for him. His bag, his power bank, cables – were all too familiar from our days as colleagues. I broke down when I saw that people had left flowers at the spot as their tribute,” recalls Mr Inveer.
He says Mr Malhan’s voice still resonates in his ears.
“I feel he’ll call me any moment and say, ‘let’s go together for a freight delivery somewhere,” says Mr Inveer.
In the meantime, a fundraiser organised by Sudhir Juneja, an active community worker in western suburbs of Melbourne, has enabled Kamaldeep Kaur to travel to India for her husband's funeral.
Mr Malhan’s friends also intend to start a fundraiser to help his family in India.
“His parents had taken a loan to send him to Australia. Once the post-mortem is done a death certificate is issued, we intend to raise funds from the community in Australia because Honey would often tell us how his family was under debt,” narrates Mr Inveer.
According to New South Police, “Emergency Services were called to the scene 3km south of Gundagai about 3.40am (Tuesday 12 November 2019), and found a southbound B-double had crossed to the wrong side of the highway and crashed down an embankment, partially blocking northbound lanes. The driver was ejected from the cabin and died at the scene. A short time later, two B-doubles being driven north came across the crashed heavy vehicle; one was able to avoid the wreckage but the second hit the trailer.”
The drivers of the other two trucks escaped unhurt.
Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to this interview in Punjabi.