Ria Patel Foundation launched by classmates

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Ria Patel (Courtesy: Facebook)

NEW YORK – Kaitlin Trefethen, a long-time friend of Indian American Ria Patel, who was killed in a car crash on September 17, 2017, was among 75 people who gathered at the University of St. Thomas on Tuesday, May 1, where students launched the Ria Patel Foundation, according to an Eden Prairie News report.

According to an earlier News India Times report, Patel died on the spot when her boyfriend Michael Campbell left her die at the scene when he crashed into a traffic signal while they shared a “passionate kiss” during the early hours of September 17, 2017 while they were returning from a party.

The Ria Patel Foundation aims to curb distracted and drunken driving as Campbell was reportedly drinking at the party before he got behind the wheel. He was sentenced to 52 months in prison on April 5.

Trefethen had been friends with Patel since fifth grade and told the Eden Prairie News that they were “inseparable in middle school and high school.”

According to student Aaron Cornelius, the Foundation’s initial goal will be: “No University of St. Thomas student dying in a drunk driving accident ever again.”

He also mentioned that they will soon reveal the “It’s Your Move” campaign in order to spread awareness of drunk driving across all college campuses in the country.

Kelly Swanson added that the team plans to hold events such as a gala and a 5K run to create awareness along with and handing out T-shirts, stickers and other marketing merchandise, and will even propose a shuttle van that will pick up students who are within five miles of the campus.

Along with Cornelius and Swanson, other students on the team include Raveena Patel, Kenzie Hickey, Lauren Hargreaves, Mark Boss and Hayden Brockwell.

GoFundMe page for Patel was also started after the crash and is still open for donations.

“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, told Eden Prairie News.

The launch of the Foundation was held in conjunction with Toward Zero Deaths, a state government highway-safety initiative that says even a single traffic death is unacceptable.

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