Thursday, September 9, 2021
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Remembering UMKC student Sraddha Khanal

Lukas Kenney and Victoria Gomez

The UMKC community is mourning the loss of senior Bloch School student Sraddha Khanal.

The 26-year-old was involved in a fatal car accident in Joplin, Missouri, earlier this month. She was in the car with her parents; husband, Pravash Ohja; and son, Sourya. They were heading eastbound on I-44 when their vehicle was struck in the rear by a pickup truck, according to city police captain Nick Jimenez, who spoke to The Joplin Globe. 

The accident took the lives of Khanal and both of her parents. Her husband sustained only minor wounds, while their 4-year-old, Sourya, suffered life-threatening injuries and was placed in ICU at Mercy Children’s Hospital Springfield. 

Khanal was born in Biratnagar, Nepal. After moving to the United States, she studied accounting at UMKC and lived with her husband and son in Blue Springs, Missouri.

Although she is gone, the memory of Khanal’s radiant character remains within students and professors at UMKC. 

Kimberly Church, one of Khanal’s accounting professors, recalled her uncanny ability to light up a classroom. 

“Of the hundreds of students I’ve had, I will never forget her laugh,” said Church. “She was the splash of color in a black-and-white classroom.”

She remembers Khanal as a hard-worker who led by example and inspired other students, while still managing to bring gaiety to the environment. 

“She would gather everyone around her like a mother hen and help everyone assume a role to tackle the task at hand. It would be remiss not to mention that wherever she was in the room, that group would be smiling and laughing by the end of class,” said Church. 

Khanal’s energy at school mirrored the commitment and enthusiasm she brought to all aspects of her life. 

“She led a life of passion,” said Emily Hutchins, a friend and classmate of Khanal’s in the Bloch school. “She had this attitude of, ‘I’m going to take that on, I’m going to conquer it, I’m going to do my thing.’ And it was that way with everything, from her family to her job to school, whatever she wanted to accomplish.”  

But for those who knew her at UMKC, trying to capture Khanal’s character in a word or phrase feels insufficient. More than anything, Khanal will be remembered for the way that she made others feel. 

“She’s beyond definition. It’s really about the experience of what you felt when you were around her,” said Hutchins. “Whether you knew her for five minutes or five years, she left a lasting impression.” 

Following this tragedy, many are now leaving an impression of their own through a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral costs and Sourya’s medical expenses. The page has 6,000 shares and has raised over $95,500 thanks to 2,500 donations. On the website, the family has continued to provide information on the status of Sourya’s condition. Per an update on Sept. 19, Sourya was still under 24/7 monitoring in ICU after a five-hour facial surgery. 

Also posted on the GoFundMe page was a message from Khanal’s husband, Pravash Ojha, who thanked donors and well-wishers and asked for their continued support. He wrote that the love and faith of the community has been an immense help, giving him the courage to wake up and look forward to seeing his child every day. 

Professor Church sees the abundant support on the website as a testament to the effect Khanal’s life had on others. 

“You’re lucky if you’ve touched a dozen people,” said Church. “And she touched thousands.”

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