February 25, 2000

Medical School rallies around student injured in fire

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Dr. Raymond DuBois

Fourth-year medical student Sandeep Kakaria remains in critical, but stable, condition in Vanderbilt's Burn Unit following last week's Hillsboro Village apartment fire, which also claimed the life of his mother and injured his father.

Darshina Kakaria, Sandeep's father, was released from the hospital Feb. 24.

Vimla Kakaria and her husband were visiting their son when the fire broke out early in the morning on Feb. 17. Sandeep and his father, Darshina, jumped from a third-story window. Vimla's body later was found near the doorway of the apartment. Sandeep's parents were visiting from Steubenville, Ohio, on a trip to see his sister's newborn, a neighbor told The Tennessean.

A smoldering cigarette is believed to be the cause of the fire, Buck Dozier, Nashville fire chief, told The Tennessean.

The School of Medicine, including faculty members and students, have assisted the family during this difficult time. The school has made hotel arrangements for victims' family members arriving from out of town as well as for access to a conference room and office facilities.

"We deeply regret the circumstances of the fire and it effects," said Dr. John E. Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine. "We are pleased that we were able to mobilize the resources of the school and the medical center to aid in every possible way. Our prayers and thoughts, as well as our efforts, are with the injured and the family."

Six other Vanderbilt students were among the residents of the three-story, 13-unit Colony Park Condominiums at 2122 Acklen Ave.

They are Rajnish Gupta, first-year medical student; Paul Hugg, Graduate School student; John Plastaras, first-year medical student; Jeffery Prusakiewicz, Graduate School student; James Sieradzki, first-year medical student; and Chuck Stevenson, third-year medical student. Jeannette Brotherton, a 1998 graduate from the School of Engineering, and former Graduate School students Roger Jackson and Helen Naylor also lived in the building.

The students displaced by the fire have made arrangements for alternative housing, said Brock R. Williams, associate dean of residential and judicial affairs.

"We've also given them meal cards that they can use at Rand or in the Medical Center so they can get something to eat," Williams said.

Ten of the units at the complex were destroyed and three received slight damage. Williams said some of the students might be able to move back to their apartments later this week.