UF student killed in fiery crash mourned
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 10:53 p.m.
Services for student
FUNERAL: A funeral service will be held for Radhika Gaur Friday at 1 p.m. at the George H. Hewell and Son Funeral Home, 4140 University Blvd. S., in Jacksonville.
MEMORIAL: A memorial is scheduled Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. in the Friends of the Music Room in University Auditorium at the University of Florida.
She wanted to work in New York and travel the world. She had talked about joining the Peace Corps and had studied in Holland in 2004.
The 20-year-old's father spoke to her just before 1 p.m. Sunday as she was driving home to Jacksonville. But, Ravi Gaur, 47, said, his daughter never arrived.
By 2:30 p.m., Ravi Gaur said he and his wife, Savita Gaur, became worried and started a search for the college student. It ended when her father received a call about two hours later that a Florida Highway Patrol trooper needed to speak with him.
Ravi Gaur said, according to troopers, his daughter apparently lost control of her Toyota Camry on Interstate 10, northeast of Lake City. She died in the fiery crash.
The car, according to troopers, veered off the highway onto the road's south shoulder and struck a group of trees. The vehicle burst into flames.
Other motorists stopped and tried in vain to help his daughter. "There was nothing you could do. It happened so fast," Ravi Gaur said.
Troopers are still investigating the crash and are awaiting medical tests to formally confirm that the woman killed was Radhika.
But the student's father said troopers had contacted the family, who have scheduled a funeral service for Friday. A memorial at UF also is planned for next week.
"She was so ambitious," Ravi Gaur said of his only daughter. "She was working on a major in finance and business and then telling me she liked journalism and marketing."
Radhika Gaur, listed by UF as a third-year business student, also worked as a fiscal assistant at the university's Career Resource Center, a position she had for about a year.
Her twin brother, Siddharth "Sidd" Gaur, 20, said his sister was "loving and caring."
The two hadn't been separated until they went to different colleges, Radhika in Gainesville and her brother in Georgia.
Sidd Gaur said his sister wanted to come back to Jacksonville this past weekend to get a glass frame she had spotted at a store about a week before. Radhika's roommate, Julie Townsend, 21, who shared the Campus Lodge apartment with her for the last two years, said Radhika still had things at home she needed to bring back to school.
Sidd Gaur recalled how much his sister loved to play tennis and said she had been good enough to make the high school tennis team.
She graduated from Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville before starting at UF in the fall of 2003.
"She always kept nagging me to play checkers and tennis," Sidd Gaur said. They were "pretty even" at checkers, he said with a laugh.
Townsend had been visiting her family in West Palm Beach when she learned of her roommate's death. The two, Radhika's father said, were like sisters.
Townsend said they had planned to remain roommates until Radhika's graduation, set for May 2007.
"We both loved to travel. We were talking about different things we wanted to do," Townsend said. "We had so much in common."
Radhika Gaur had a Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholarship and was a member of the Gator Alliance for Teaching, Equality and Success organization, Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society and the Business Administration College Council.
Townsend said the two had been in the Women's Chorale, UF's female choir.
They also shared a passion for scary movies. "We would have scary movie nights," Townsend said, and watch flicks like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
"I expect to walk into my apartment and see her there," Townsend said. "Her stuff is still in her room. You just think she should be coming home."
Lise Fisher can be reached at 374-5092 or fisherl@ gvillesun.com.
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