A network of friends, both local and from around the globe, is raising thousands of dollars to help with the medical expenses for a Columbus woman recovering from a hit-and-run incident that resulted in her husband’s death.
A gofundme account set up to help Samira Bhardwaj with medical expenses had more than $51,000 contributed after three days from 937 contributors, with the hopes of raising $100,000.
Bhardwaj, 28, of Columbus, is in stable condition at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, recovering from being critically injured in the March 26 hit-and-run accident that killed her husband, Anshul Sharma, 30, a Cummins Inc. engineer who had lived in Columbus for about five years.
The couple, who celebrated their first wedding anniversary in March, were walking in a buffered bike lane on Taylor Road near Lakeside Drive at 7:15 p.m. when they were hit from behind by a minivan, which immediately left the scene, investigators said.
Michael B. Demaio, 36, of 2023 Chandler Lane, Columbus, has been charged in Bartholomew Superior Court 2 with four felonies: operating a vehicle while intoxicated resulting in death, and in injury, and failing to stop after an accident resulting in death, and in injury, court records state.
People who have organized the gofundme account wanted to do something to help Sharma’s wife, said Vivek Jaryal, also an engineer at Cummins, who had been friends with Sharma during the time he was in the United States.
After the accident, many of Sharma’s friends were unsure how to respond and reached out to Cummins officials who helped the Sharma and Bhardwaj families, he said.
Bhardwaj’s mother was scheduled to arrive from India on Tuesday, and many of the couple’s local friends plan to visit with her at the Indianapolis hospital, he said.
The couple’s friends have been keeping an ongoing presence at the hospital to provide whatever support is needed, such as providing meals to family members, he said. Bhardwaj, who was not working while she was in the United States with Sharma, will need help with medical expenses and that’s how the money being raised is to be used.
Donations so far have come from fellow Cummins employees, from Sharma’s friends at Wayne State University in Michigan where he attended college, from his social media friends and friends in India, Jaryal said.
A remembrance ceremony for Sharma is tentatively planned for 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus to allow his local friends a chance to share their memories and grief.
Bhardwaj, who improved from critical to stable condition in about a week, does not recall details of the accident and is continuing to recover from a large number of internal injuries, Jaryal said.
“She’s gone through a severe shock, physically and mentally,” he said.
Family members have since determined that rather than have her travel back to India, she will continue her recovery in the United States, with the help of the funding through the gofundme account.
Their friends are unsure why the couple was walking in the bike lane but said Sharma had been involved in running marathons and actively played cricket.
“He was very fitness conscious,” Jaryal said. “He was very energetic, always excited about everything.”
With the weather warming up, the couple had just started going out for evening walks, he said.
“He was a great friend,” Jaryal said of Sharma.
In return, his friends at Cummins are trying to help Bhardwaj in the way Sharma was a friend to them, he said.
“He would stay with you forever if you needed him to,” he said. “We’re just trying to do our best right now.”
To donate to the gofundme account to help defray medical expenses for Samira Bhardwaj, 28, Columbus, visit: