Two Indian Americans and a Nepali were injured in the crash on July 12.
It was a normal Friday for 29-year-old Nikhil Gopishetty, who was wrapping up from his work in Columbus, Ohio, and looking ahead to the weekend. Since Gopishetty, along with his colleague Soujanya Banda work at OCLC, a global library cooperative headquartered in Columbus, the two would travel back together in Gopishetty’s car, as they lived nearby.
On that fateful day on July 12th, they saw another one of their colleagues, Ashok Adhikari, walking in the hot summer sun, waiting for a bus, and they decided to help him out. Gopishetty offered Adhikari a ride to save him from waiting in the sun, even though his house wasn’t exactly on their way home.
Unaware of what lay ahead of them, the three started their journey. But as soon as they were nearing Adhikari’s home on Bethel Road, Gopishetty, who was in the driver’s seat took a left turn, when a car crashed into their car from the passenger side. While Gopishetty fainted soon after, he did not know that two other cars crashed into the car as well, turning the accident into a fatal multi-vehicle car crash.
Gopishetty remembers people surrounding him and hitting him on the cheeks to keep him awake. He says he was dropping in and out of consciousness as he was being transferred to an ambulance. The other two passengers, however, were more seriously injured. Soujanya Banda, a working mother of a 10-year-old, suffered traumatic brain injury, fractures in her pelvis, cerebros fluid leaks from her ear and respiratory failure. Ashok Adhikari, who is a student on CPT, suffered from traumatic brain injury, fractured ribs, a spinal injury and shoulder fracture. While Gopishetty has been discharged from the hospital, the other two are still recuperating in the hospital.
Gopishetty says, “The Indian community in Columbus is shaken with the incident and have come forward to support. The community realizes that many of us live and work here and we do not have families and support system here. Also, the mounting medical bills and months of recuperation that lays ahead for the two is a constant worry for us now.”
Gopishetty’s colleagues at OCLC have started a Go Fund Me page for Soujanya and Ashok who won’t be able to go back to work for month. The fundraiser with a goal of $300,000 has already garnered $108,181 in six days since it was started.
While Soujanya used to work in Columbus, her husband and daughter live in Atlanta. She would visit them every weekend. As soon as the news of her accident came about, her husband rushed to Columbus. Adhikari, a student in the US, is working on a CPT. Born in Nepal, he has no family in the US and his dad traveled from Nepal in emergency.
Gopishetty came to the US for his master’s three years ago and now works at OCLC. He is single and with no immediate family in the US to help him cope with this trauma, his brother-in-law traveled from India to be with him during the tough time.
Gopishetty has been following up with the police on the crash. He says that the authorities told him that since there were no cameras on that particular intersection, they are still investigating the multiple crash, relying on eyewitnesses, which may take some time. He says, “I clearly remember the light turning green and I took the left turn, soon there was a loud boom and I realized were hit by another vehicle.” Another vehicle who was westbound on the same road hit the car and according to police accounts, debris from the vehicle that struck Nikhil struck another vehicle on the road.
While all the others involved escaped with minor injuries, Soujanya and Ashok continue to be at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The friends and families are rooting for help from everyone who can make contributions and help them sail through difficult times.