A young woman attending graduate school in Seattle, Washington, died recently after a marked cop cruiser struck her while she was crossing the street.
At around 8 p.m. on January 23, 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula was attempting to cross Dexter Avenue North at Thomas Street, just a few blocks east of the Space Needle. As she was traversing the designated crosswalk, an officer with the Seattle Police Department driving northbound on Dexter Avenue in a marked patrol SUV struck her.
Fellow officers and members of the fire department soon afterwards arrived on the scene and began to perform CPR on Kandula, who was then transported to Harborview Medical Center with "life-threatening injuries." Shortly before 2 p.m. the following day, Seattle PD had announced that Kandula had died.
So far, details about the events leading up to the collision remain scarce. Police have confirmed that the officer involved has been with the force since November 2019 and was said to be responding to a "priority one call," which is the most urgent. KING-TV has reported that the call may have been related to a man who refused to go to the hospital.
A witness told reporters that the officer involved in the incident appeared distraught afterward. "I feel bad for the officer," the witness stated. "I can’t imagine how he feels. And I saw the emotion from him, and he seemed pretty bent out of shape about it."
Seattle police have issued a statement to express their condolences as well as to request patience as their investigation into the crash continues:
We want to acknowledge the many questions we are receiving regarding the collision Monday night between an SPD officer and a pedestrian. As is the case with any serious motor vehicle collision, this incident is under investigation by SPD’s Traffic Collision Investigation Squad, consistent with SPD policy (Manual Section 13.010). We acknowledge that there is understandably tremendous interest in the surrounding facts, but for purposes of both preserving the integrity of the investigation and respecting the family’s right to privacy, will not be putting out information over and beyond what has already been provided. We will provide all publicly releasable information, including the report, once we are able to do so, and in consultation with the family.
We extend our deepest condolences to Ms. Kandula’s family and friends. This incident is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved.
Police have not stated whether the officer in question had been speeding or whether the vehicle's sirens or flashing lights had been on at the time of the incident.
According to a GoFundMe account established on her behalf, Kandula was born and raised by a single mother in Andhra Pradesh, a state located along the eastern coast of India. Kandula moved to the United States two years ago to further her education, and she was working toward a master's degree in engineering at Northeastern University—Seattle when she was killed. She was on track to graduate in December.
Kandula's family has also released a statement, expressing their grief and their hope that they will soon learn more information regarding Kandula's "tragic and untimely death":
"We are truly heartbroken," the statement read in part. "Jaahnavi was a brilliant student with a bright future. Jaahnavi's smile was radiant, and her bubbly personality warmed the hearts of every person she came in contact with. She had an innate ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Jaahnavi's tragic and untimely death has left her family and community with a huge hole in their hearts that will never be repaired."
"Jaahnavi is remembered as a stellar student and a delightful and effervescent human being," added David Thurman, the CEO of Northeastern University—Seattle. "She was a close friend to many and friends shared that they loved her bubbly laugh, sense of humor and infectious personality. Her loss will be felt deeply by students, staff, and faculty across campus."
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