MILWAUKEE — Prasanthika Fernando, who loved ones called “Madu," has been identified as the only victim in a horrific accident on I-43/94 South in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
The devastated family of the 22-year-old spoke with TMJ4 News, sharing how even in death, Madu is helping others.
“I can’t even put into words how painful this has been for all of us,” said Aisha Fernando, Madu’s cousin.
In photos the family shared of Madu, she always had a sparkle in her eye.
“She was just a kind, smart, beautiful person,” Fernando said. “She was thriving. She was a healer, who always wanted to help people.”
Madu was in the prime of her life, working at a local hospital on the path to becoming a doctor.
But her life was cut tragically short on her way to work around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. Something went horribly wrong while she was driving on I-43/94 South between the Marquette Interchange and National Avenue. Somehow, her car ended up stalled in the middle lane of the interstate. She got out of the vehicle, and she was struck by a semi-truck.
“We don’t understand what could have led to this fluke accident,” Fernando said. “She is a very safe driver. It’s just so maddening, because there is nothing we can do to bring her back or change how this played out.”
Investigators say it was dark and the roadway was wet. They believe she may have lost control of her car and spun before coming to a stop in the middle lane. Minutes before she was struck, a Milwaukee County Transit System bus driver called 911 to report a car in the middle of the interstate with no lights on.
“We are reviewing measurements we took at the scene and forensic information,” said Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas. “We are also checking some cameras, and other things like that. Hopefully that can help us piece together what exactly transpired, so we can bring some closure to a family that I know is just heartbroken.”
For Madu’s parents and little sister, closure will likely never come. They moved here as a family from Sri Lanka eight years ago. In one of her last Facebook posts about her graduation with honors from UW Green Bay last month, Madu credited them, saying “I’m so thankful for my amazing family who helped me to make this all possible. I’m so happy and blessed to be where I am today, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Madu was an organ donor. Her eyes that always sparkled, have now been given to someone whose future will be forever changed by them.
“I just hope that the person who receives her eyes gets to see life the way she saw it,” Fernando said. “Everything was beautiful. Everything was an opportunity. I hope they get to feel that same warmth that she would radiate to all of us.”
A GoFundMe page was started to help Madu’s family pay for her funeral. They are planning the service for the end of this week.