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Students launch foundation in the name of Indian American killed in accident

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Ria Patel
Ria Patel (Courtesy of Facebook her account)

Ria Patel Foundation at St. Thomas University in Minnesota will campaign against “distracted and drunken” driving.

Friends and teachers of Indian American car accident victim Ria Patel gathered at University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, along with her family members, on Tuesday to launch the Ria Patel Foundation that will campaign to curb “distracted and drunken” driving.

Patel was killed in September 2017, when Michael Laurence Campbell left her to die after crashing the car to a traffic poll.

Last month, a Hennepin County Court sentenced Campbell to four years in prison for fleeing the scene without helping Patel. She was given medical care after police rushed to the scene, but it was too late.

“Ending drunk driving is like trying to boil the ocean,” Aaron Cornelius, a St. Thomas student, told

He and five other students from the university and Raveena Patel, sister of Ria, are the brains behind the foundation, which was launched at McNeely Hall on campus.

The other five are Kelly Swanson, Kenzie Hickey, Lauren Hargreaves, Mark Boss and Hayden Brockwell.

The founders of the foundation want the story of Patel to spread across other universities and create awareness about the issues of drunken driving.

They said that the foundation will soon host a gala and a three-mile run with handouts, T-shirts and other marketing tools to spread the word.

The members of the foundation have also proposed a shuttle van to pick up St. Thomas students who lives within five miles of the campus.

The launch of the Ria Patel Foundation was held in the backdrop of “Toward Zero Deaths,” which is a state government highway-safety initiative to sensitize people about how drunk-driving can lead to lack of judgement that lead to accidents as fatal as the one that took the life of Ria.

“It gives us peace that we have the Ria Patel Foundation — a foundation inspired by her life and to make sure that no other family or friend goes through the pain that we have all suffered,” Hitesh Patel, Ria’s uncle, who spoke on behalf of the family, said.

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Indian American student Ria Patel killed in fatal car crash in Minneapolis

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