Grad Student, 23, Dies After Being Struck by Seattle Police Car Responding to 'Priority' Call

Jaahnavi Kandula, a graduate student at Northeastern University's Seattle campus, was hit at a crosswalk on Jan. 23

Jaahnavi Kandula
Jaahnavi Kandula. Photo: GoFundMe

Friends and family are mourning the loss of a 23-year-old Northeastern University graduate student who died after being struck by a police car while crossing a street in Seattle last week.

Jaahnavi Kandula was in a crosswalk in the city's South Lake Union neighborhood on Jan. 23 when she was hit by the marked SUV, which was en route to a "priority one call," according to the Seattle Police Department.

Authorities arrived at the scene just after 8 p.m. and performed CPR on Kandula before she was transported to the hospital in critical condition, per the statement.

In an update, the department confirmed that she had died.

"We want to acknowledge the many questions we are receiving regarding the collision Monday night between an SPD officer and a pedestrian," the Seattle Police Department said in a statement on Thursday. "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."

Although the officer who was driving the car has not been identified, police said he has been with the department since November 2019.

"We extend our deepest condolences to Ms. Kandula's family and friends," police wrote in the statement. "This incident is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved."

Kandula was studying information systems at the school's satellite campus, according to The Boston Globe.

The daughter of a single mother, Kandula was obtaining a degree to help improve her family's life back in India, where her mother works as an elementary school teacher and earns less than $200 a month, her family said in a statement, reported NBC affiliate KING-TV.

"We are truly heartbroken. Jaahnavi was a brilliant student with a bright future," they wrote in the statement published by the outlet. "Jaahnavi's smile was radiant, and her bubbly personality warmed the hearts of every person she came in contact with."

A GoFundMe account has raised more than $150,000 for the family as of Monday.

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"Jaahnavi's sudden death has left a void which can't be replaced but we could at least help the grieving family by contributing anything possible to support their family during these hard times," the organizers wrote.

"Jaahnavi cared deeply for her mom. So much so, that in spite of severe homesickness, she came to the States to pursue her dreams and to create a better future for her mom & sister," the message continued. "While Jaahnavi may not be here with us anymore, her dream will live on. Your generous donation will help realize that dream."

SPD's Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is currently investigating the collision and circumstances of the incident, and police say additional updates will be shared as additional information becomes available.

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