Northeastern University mourns loss of student hit and killed by police SUV at its Seattle campus

SEATTLE, Washington — The Northeastern University community is mourning the loss of Jaahnavi Kandula, a graduate student who was struck and killed by a Seattle Police Department SUV while walking in a crosswalk at an intersection in Seattle.

A makeshift memorial containing flowers, candles and photographs of the 23-year-old Kandula, an engineering student, has grown over the past week.

“Jaahnavi is remembered as a stellar student and a delightful and effervescent human being. 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,” David Thurman, dean and CEO of Northeastern University’s Seattle campus, said in a statement to Boston 25 on Monday.

Kandula came to Seattle from Bengaluru, India in 2021 to pursue a master’s degree in information systems in the College of Engineering, said Thurman. She was scheduled to graduate in December 2023.

Thurman called Kandula “a beloved member of our Seattle community.”

“Jaahnavi demonstrated strong analytical abilities in large-scale data management and a passion for resolving technical issues,” Thurman said. “She worked as a Junior Executive at CAMTek Solutions for two years examining technical and artistic outputs. Additionally, she worked as an Administrative & Events Assistant on the Seattle campus, supporting event management and providing administrative help.”

On Jan. 24, just after 8 p.m., Seattle Police responded to a collision involving a marked patrol vehicle and a pedestrian near the intersection of Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, police said.

Police said the officer, who was not identified, was responding along with the fire department to a “priority one call” when the crash occurred. The officer involved has been with the department since November of 2019.

“The female pedestrian was crossing from east to west in the crosswalk when the collision occurred,” Seattle Police said in a statement.

When officers arrived, they found Kandula suffering from life-threatening injuries. Police performed CPR on her while waiting for the arrival of the Seattle Fire Department, police said. Kandula was sent to a local hospital, where she later died.

Seattle Police said the circumstances leading up to the fatal crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call Seattle Police at (206) 684-8923.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Ms. Kandula’s family and friends. This incident is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved,” Seattle Police said in a statement on Thursday.

Kandula’s family issued a statement, saying they are “truly heartbroken.”

“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,” the statement said. “Jaahnavi’s tragic and untimely death has left her family and community with a huge hole in their hearts that will never be repaired.”

Kandula was the daughter to a single mother who teaches elementary school in India, who earns less than $200 per month, the statement said.

“Her mother educated Jaahnavi and encouraged her to the United States hoping Jaahnavi would have a better future and a better life abroad,” the statement said. “Her mother’s hopes and dreams are cut short now. The family would like to get some closure and would like to know the circumstances behind the death. They demand that the Police and City officials release more information on how the death may have happened and what could have been done to avoid such a tragic accident. The family deserves answers to their questions, and her grieving mother deserves closure.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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