‘A love for each other.’ Friends mourn Texas brother, sister killed in backhoe incident

Jack Howland
·2 min read

A community in North Texas is rallying around a family more than a week after they lost a daughter and a son in an accident involving a backhoe, and the father who was operating the machine was charged in their deaths.

Sonakshi Chauhan, the 7-year-old daughter, and Shivraj Chauhan, the 11-year-old son, had “a love for each other” that “was unlike any brother-sister duo,” friends of the family and religious acquaintances wrote on a GoFundMe page honoring the two young children. Sonakshi is described on the page as a playful and compassionate person, who was also a graceful dancer. Shivraj, known to many as Raj, is described as brilliant, outgoing and caring.

He also dedicated his Sundays to spending time at the mandir, the term for a temple among Rajputs, organizers described on the page. He drummed his hands on a Tabla during religious services.

The Rajputs are a group of people, with members around the globe, who trace their lineages back to certain royal families in India.

The GoFundMe, as of Tuesday, has raised more than $48,500 to support the family of the two children as well as fund grief counseling services. The page was organized by friends of the family and Rajput Association of North America Southwest Chapter.

“Our hearts are completely broken and the pain is overwhelming,” organizers wrote on the page.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the April 3 incident. A spokesman for the agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for an update on the investigation on Tuesday.

Vijender Chauhan, the 40-year-old father of the two children, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of manslaughter, three counts of endangering a child and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to DPS.

The incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of Chapel Hill Court, near Roanoke. Multiple adults and children were riding on various moving parts of a backhoe when Vijender Chauhan caused the front bucket to dump, sending those who were inside to the ground, according to DPS. Sonakshi and Shivraj were overrun, officials said. They died at the scene.

Two other children suffered injuries and were taken to trauma centers for treatment, according to DPS. An adult also suffered injuries and was taken to a trauma center.

Shivraj and Sonakshi were students at Trinity Valley School, according to an email from the Fort Worth K-12 private school sent out to parents. Blair Lowry, the head of school, wrote, “It is difficult to find the words to express the sorrow we all feel for the loss of our young students.”

Counseling was made available to students at school, Lowry said in the email.