The family of Jaahnavi Kandula is speaking up after she was struck and killed by a marked Seattle police car earlier this week.
Authorities confirmed 23-year-old victim was on a crosswalk when a marked patrol vehicle hit her near Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street Monday night (January 23). Police said the driving officer was responding to an unspecified "priority one call" alongside the city's fire department when the collision happened.
On Thursday, January 26, KING 5 obtained a statement from the Kandula's family, which read in part:
"We 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. Jaahnavi's tragic and untimely death has left her family and community with a huge hole in their hearts that will never be repaired. She was a daughter to a single mother who teaches elementary school in India. In spite of earning less than 200 USD per month, her mother educated Jaahnavi and encouraged her to the United States hoping Jaahnavi would have a better future and a better life abroad. Her mother's hopes and dreams are cut short now."
Kandula's family desires closure and more information leading up to the fatal collision. Police have been releasing small details regarding the case, and the only thing known about the driving officer is that he's been on the force since November 2019.
Seattle Police released a statement after 2:30 p.m. Thursday addressing the lack of information:
"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."
Kandula was a graduate student at Northeastern University and was set to graduate in December 2023. David Thurman, Dean of Northeastern University, described the 23-year-old as a "stellar student and a delightful and effervescent human being" in a letter to students this week.
A GoFundMe has also been set up for Kandula's family.
SPD's Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is leading the investigation. Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call 206-684-8923.