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By Laura Jane Ryves on 10.3.2024

Family and Friends Mourn the Loss of Bihari Payagala

A 20 year old female student at The University of Kent was hit by a motorist whilst crossing St Stephen’s Hill, Canterbury, on 23rd February at approximately 2.30PM.

Bihari Payagala, a Sociology student in her second year, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident which occurred just before the Down’s Road junction.

The blue Ford Fiesta was driven by a man in his 60s from Thanet, who suffered shock but was not injured.

Following the collision St Steven’s Road was closed for five hours and police crash investigators are continuing to appeal for witnesses.

A friend of Miss Payagala recollected that ‘she was a very small, petite girl and perhaps the driver didn’t see her’.

A family statement released March 5th said: “Bihari was a very kind hearted, fun-loving girl who was born and grew up in West London attending St Augustine’s Priory in Ealing.

“She enjoyed spending time with her family and was like any other young student of her age, in the midst of experiencing university life at Kent.

“She was an extremely charitable person who had aspired to spend her life working for good causes across the world, which tied in with her strong Buddhist roots.

“She will be sorely missed by her family and we feel extremely fortunate to have known such a beautiful person and to have shared our lives with her.”

Floral tributes and cards of condolence have been left on St Stephen’s Hill by friends of Miss Payagala,

One carried the poignant message: “Bihari, we will never forget you, and we will all miss you so so much. We will never stop loving you.”

Students and nearby residents have previously campaigned for a pedestrian crossing to be installed on the busy road.

In 2006, a petition in support of the campaign was signed by 63 students and submitted to the council’s Joint Transportation Board, which promised to look into the possibility of building a crossing.

After this recent incident, one Kent student said the crossing where Miss Payagala died is ‘so dangerous. Cars fly down and don’t give students a chance to cross- something needs to be done’.

Concerned Kent students have suggested a number of solutions in order to make this dangerous stretch of road safer including inserting traffic lights or a pelican crossing, reducing the speed limit to 20MPH or installing a speed camera.

The University community is reminded during this difficult period that its Counselling Service and multi-faith Chaplaincy are open and available to all students and staff.

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