Nikita Prabhakar Nakal from Mumbai, a University of Central Oklahoma student was killed in a car attack on October 24th. Two memorial services have been planned for Nikita, who was killed when a driver plowed through a Homecoming parade in Stillwater, Oklahoma, killing four people and injuring dozens of others, many of whom remain in critical condition.
Nikita Prabhakar Nakal had arrived at UCO – in Edmund, Oklahoma – just three months before the horrific incident. The 23-year-old woman was a resident of Mumbai. The tragedy occurred as 25-year-old Adacia Chambers drove her Hyundai sedan into the annual “Sea of Orange” Homecoming parade at Oklahoma State University. The parade – known as ‘America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration’ – features floats and marching bands, and annually draws about 80,000 spectators. Nakal was attending the parade with friends from UCO.
Chambers crashed into a police motorcycle before plowing through the crowd on Main Street. Six people remain in critical condition, while 30 others were treated and released. Witnesses at the scene described “bodies flying everywhere” as Chambers continued along her horrific quest. She is being held in custody on four counts of second-degree murder; results of a blood draw – to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs – had not been released at press time Oct. 27.
UCO Professor Donna Carlon told local media that Nakal held a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Mumbai University and was intending to pursue a career as a financial analyst in India after obtaining her MBA. UCO had planned two memorial services for Nakal. The first, planned for the evening of Oct. 27, was a candlelight memorial at Broncho Lake, near the center of the university’s campus. Nakal’s friends were expected to speak at the service.
The second memorial will be held on Oct. 30 as part of “Desi Night,” a previously planned UCO Indian Student Association event designed for attendees to experience the culture of India. The evening will include remarks from friends of Nakal, university officials, representatives from the UCO International Student Council, Indian Student Association and MBA program, and the opportunity to sign a condolence card for Nakal’s family. A celebration of Indian culture will follow and is set to include traditional cuisine, dancing and music.
UCO president Don Betz said in a statement: “Our students come to Central with their unique goals, hopes and dreams, and Nikita was undoubtedly no different. While we mourn the potential unrealized, let us also honor her life by pulling closer and appreciating the strength of our Broncho family.” The Broncho is UCO’s mascot.
Payne County, Oklahoma District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas said Oct. 26 that Chambers would be charged with a minimum of four counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of Nakal; OSU Professors Marvin and Bonnie Stone, both 65; and Nash Lucas, 2. “The state believes the acts alleged demonstrate a depraved mind and an indifference to human life,” stated Thomas in a press release announcing the charges against Chambers.
“The evidence indicates Chambers consciously drove through a red light, around a police barricade, over a police motorcycle and further into a large crowd of highly visible, innocent people enjoying a Homecoming Day parade. This was an intentional act, not an accident,” stated Thomas, adding that additional charges against Thomas are being considered.
Each charge of second degree murder carries a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison. Chambers could be charged with first-degree murder if there is sufficient evidence to prove that her actions were pre-meditated, according to the district attorney’s office.
In response to questions from local media, Stillwater Police Captain Kyle Gibbs said Chambers had not taken a Breathalyzer test at the scene of the crime, but a blood draw was administered as she was taken into custody. Gibbs said the Police Department is investigating statements that indicate Chambers was fired from her job shortly before the incident, because she had shown up to work drunk. Gibbs said the department is also investigating whether Chambers has a history of mental illness.