Patients, co-workers and employees mourn loss of couple killed in plane crash

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Multiple communities are mourning the loss of two local psychiatrists. The State Highway Patrol said Monday that 63-year-old pilot, Umamahesware Kalapatapu, and his 61-year-old wife, Sitha-Gita Kalapatapu, died on a Piper Archer PA-28. The plane carrying the Logansport, Indiana, couple crashed Saturday near the Washington County village of Beverly, about 75 miles southeast of Columbus.

Laura Hays worked for the couple at Raj Fort Wayne. But she was more than an employee to the two psychiatrists. She said they both helped her through an abusive relationship. “Being part of the Raj Clinic staff probably got me through the hardest time of my life.”

Caring and compassionate are endearing traits not only deemed by Hays. Support and love for them out-poured on social media. Dr. Dubey at the Bowen center said Dr. K motivated him to move to Indiana to start his career. Since then he was a mentor. “He was very calm, peaceful look, very gentle and very hard working and patients just loved him.”

Not only did they do hospital and nursing home work, but they worked at the Bowen Center for decades and opened Raj Clinics 25 years ago, offering mental health help across the state. “They balanced it. They never let anything get in their work and they kept their passions alive,” Hays said.

Those passions included a love of the arts. Both played instruments, Sitha-Gita was a ballroom dancer and concert pianist. Dr. K was an award winning photographer. He was also known as ‘the doctor who flew’ as he often flew from Logansport to a clinic.

Now as thousands of patients are searching for help elsewhere, the hope is to somehow try and continue their passion for helping others. “His patients, they want to make sure that they’re not forgotten. And I don’t think they could be by anybody that knows them,” Hays said.

“I would like to walk on his footsteps work hard and help more people,” Dubey said.

Funeral arrangements haven’t been announced yet. Patients and staff will be gathering for a memorial Sunday at 6 p.m. at their Fort Wayne office (807 Airport North Office Park on Lima Rd.)

Raj patients in the addiction therapy program have been directed to:

  • CleanSlate at 3005 E. State Boulevard, their hotline number is (413) 341-1787. They are increasing their staffing to try and get patients in same day so that there’s not a lapse in the patient’s coverage
  • Dr. Mahendar Surakanti – Psychiatric patients, no addiction therapy (260) 203-4188. Their address is 7806 W Jefferson
  • Bowen Center- Psychiatric and Addiction Therapy. 1-800-342-5652.