Students and family mourn accident victim

By Amanda Porterfield |

Published 10/09 2013 10:33PM

Updated 10/11 2013 10:27AM

Latest: 10:27 pm
URBANA -- A community of students gathered to remember a friend Thursday night, just a day after she was killed after being hit by a truck on campus. Word of a University of Illinois junior's death has spread, and dozens met at the Asian-American Cultural Center to grieve.

This crash seems to be unfolding as a freak accident. But students say that does not take away the pain of losing a friend, and they came out in droves to show support.

It was a private event, but a number of students say Mimi Liu's death has affected the entire community. Student after student said Liu was the type of person who did not meet a stranger. She was very involved in Asian-American cultural programs and many organizations on campus.

Two students who were in a dance performance with her say it was something she loved to do.

Jose Torio said, "Her smile was very welcoming. You could always approach her and have a conversation very easily."

Lauren Soloman said Mimi may have a bigger impact on others.

"But as small as it is, I wanted to give her a thank you, in a way."

As for the accident, the driver's family says he had a diabetic attack while on the road. They say he took insulin, then forgot to eat which caused him to black out.

Police say the truck hit signs, a tree and even another car before hitting the women on the sidewalk. Liu was one of two victims in this crash. Friends of the other woman say she has just a few bruises and scrapes, but is recovering well.
Update: 6:04 pm
URBANA -- Every parent's worst nightmare came true for the family of one University of Illinois student. She was hit by a car and killed.

Two students were hit by a pickup truck on campus Wednesday morning. One survived, but 20-year old Mimi Liu did not.

It does not seem real to her family and friends. It has not sunk in that she's gone, and her father and best friend do not know if it ever will.

It's a scene friends and family of Mimi Liu can not erase from their memory. A shattered windshield, belongings left behind, and crime scene tape blocking off Lincoln Avenue.

"I don't know how to say it. I'm out of my mind," said Zhi Liu, Mimi's father.

Police say Liu and Spandana Mantravadi were walking on the sidewalk when they were hit by a pickup truck. The driver's family says the 58-year old went into diabetic shock and lost control of the car. Liu was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

Zhi Liu said that it is going to be painful for the rest of his life.

"We lost Mimi. I can only say I love her so much. She's a beautiful girl. She's everything."

Liu's best friend says family meant the world to her, and all Liu ever wanted to do was set a good example for her little sister.

"Mimi is a good friend. A good girl."

Liu was a junior at the UI majoring in Agricultural Business Marketing and Management. Friends say she was very involved in church and loved to dance. Her dad hopes her loving spirit will live on forever.

"She was a beautiful girl with a bright future."

Friends of Mantravadi say she is doing OK, and is expected to be released from the hospital Thursday or Friday.
Original: 12:19 pm
URBANA -- Hours after a woman was hit and killed by a car, students who live right where it happened are leaning on each other for support.
"When I came back from class, everything was shut down there were police officers everywhere," says Anna Tanaglia who lives in one of the many sorority houses in this part of campus.           
A driver hit two women while they were crossing Lincoln Avenue near Pennsylvania. One died, the other is still in the hospital. Many people witnessed the accident. It was a traumatic event and many people say they couldn't continue the day knowing what happened.

"A lot of our women were really shocked by what happened. Some of them ended up not going to class. They really just wanted to take some time. Everyone is just so upset, we hate to have something so sad happen outside of our chapter house," says Tanaglia.

Police say Willie Craft, Sr., was driving a Chevy pickup. Family members say a diabetic attack made him suddenly veer off of the road several times, hit street signs and another car before he hit two women crossing the street.

Immediately the sisters here sprung into action to make sure it wasn't one of their own.

"We had to do a head count and make sure everyone was accounted for. Chapter presidents, we all called each other and made sure everyone was accounted for as well," says Tanaglia.    

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup is trying to find family members of the student who died. The other victim, Spandana Mantravadi, is still in the hospital and doing OK.

They are on the minds of many on campus whether they know the victims or not.

"Just knowing they were two women on our campus that we may not have known but we walk this street everyday, knowing that it could have happened to any one of us. It is so sad," says Tanaglia.

Craft was cited for improper lane usage and driving without insurance.

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