A 24-year-old woman from Hyderabad, India studying in the United States as a foreign exchange student died in a tragic car accident in Cheney, Kansas on Sunday evening.
The victim, Pratiksha Kunwar, was pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Analysis at Wichita State University. She was traveling in a Nissan Sentra with three other exchange students when the car failed to stop at an intersection and collided with a Chevrolet Tahoe.
According to the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, the accident occurred around 7pm at the intersection of West 21st Street North and 391st West, just southeast of Cheney Lake. The Sentra, driven by 22-year-old Varun Aithagoni, was heading eastbound when it did not yield at a stop sign and was struck by the northbound Tahoe.
Kunwar, who was in the front passenger seat, suffered fatal injuries in the crash. She was pronounced dead after being rushed to a local hospital. Aithagoni remains hospitalized in critical condition. The two backseat passengers sustained only minor injuries.
The Tahoe’s driver, 36-year-old Brandon Schroeder of Cheney, and his two young children ages 2 and 3 were also treated for minor injuries. All involved were reported to be wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision.
Tragedy for Family
For Kunwar’s family back in Hyderabad, the news comes as a devastating tragedy. According to Kunwar’s sister Pratibha, the consulate general in Houston is in touch with the family and coordinating efforts to transport Pratiksha’s remains home as soon as possible.
Pratiksha had completed her undergraduate studies at Haindavi College in Hyderabad before embarking for the United States. Her family is hoping her body can be repatriated before the end of the week.
Unfortunately, Kunwar’s death marks another in a series of similar tragedies involving Hyderabadi students killed in road accidents while studying abroad in the US. The Indian government has taken note and made representations to US authorities about road safety protections for foreign students.
As the investigation continues, Kunwar’s loved ones are left to mourn the immense loss of a bright young woman taken too soon. The Wichita community has also rallied around its international students during this difficult time.