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Ahead of World Day of Remembrance, daughter of Tampa crash victim pleads for safer roads

More than 200 people have been killed in traffic accidents in Hillsborough County so far this year
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Posted at 5:53 AM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 08:04:53-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The spirit of Arthi Sainath’s father, Jagadish Sainath, is still very much alive.

“Everyone remembers him, because he smiles all the time,” said Arthi, as she looked down at a picture of her father, known affectionately as Sai.

In Arthi’s home in New Tampa, the energy of the bubbly 73-year-old is still palpable, even though he’s no longer physically there and hasn’t been for more than two months now.

“It was September 16, and he was taking a walk from his condo,” remembered Arthi.

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That routine walk changed everything in just a split second. Plan Hillsborough said Sai was hit and killed by a driver at the intersection of Highwood Preserve Parkway and Stone View Drive.

His daughter, at work at the time, got the call no one ever wants.

“My mom said, ‘Arthi, it doesn’t matter how much money it takes, please bring baba back. You know, please bring him back.’ So, I couldn’t give her what she wanted,” she said.

She can’t bring back the father who moved here from India, late in life, to be close to his daughter and grandkids, but she can make sure his physical death was not in vain.

“I’ve been in tune more with how many tragedies happen in our community,” said Arthi.

On Sunday morning, on what’s known as the World Day of Remembrance, she’ll lead a Walk of Mourning in New Tampa with other grieving families and transportation planners, like Gena Torres, to remember the more than 200 people who’ve died in accidents in Hillsborough County so far this year.

It is very heartbreaking because the numbers we’re talking about are actual people,” said Torres, an executive planner with Plan Hillsborough who works with Vision Zero, the city’s strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries.

Torres says the march’s mission is greater than awareness alone. She says it’s also about fighting for safer road designs and greater funding for improvements at intersections like the one where Sai was killed.

“There is no crosswalk,” said Arthi, when asked about that intersection. “There are no pedestrian signs.”

The fight for safer roads is Arthi’s fight now too, with the spirit of her energetic dad still living through her.

“My dad will never be my past. He’s my present. He’s my future, so I can never refer to him in my past, you know,” she said.

All are invited to the Walk of Mourning. It will take place at 9 a.m. Participants will meet at the old Sweetbay parking lot (17605 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa, FL 33647) before walking 0.4 miles to Flatwoods Park and back.

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