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Vigil held for Dara Kusiv UNF student killed in New Year's Day crash

12:22 AM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
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LONGWOOD, Fla. -- Three UNF students remain in critical condition following a one-vehicle New Year's Day crash on the Southside that killed Dara Kusiv, a UNF sophomore.

On Wednesday night, hundreds turned out at a dance studio in her hometown of Longwood for a candlelight vigil to remember her.

"It's just shocking. I fell to the floor, I was bawling. I was just confused at first because I just saw her three days ago, and I don't understand how in a couple of seconds a person's life can be taken. It's just horrific," said Beth James, Dara's childhood friend.

Dara's parents said police do not believe alcohol played a role in the accident, but investigators are still trying to figure out why the pickup truck she was riding in with three other UNF students suddenly ran off the road on Beach Boulevard, striking a large overhead sign post.

"It's extremely hard. It's every parent's nightmare to lose their child. Parents are supposed to go first," said Lynn Kusiv, Dara's mother.

From jazz to ballet, Dara's friends and family said she loved dancing, and she aspired to be an accountant

"We were even going to open our own accounting firm together. It was going to be D and B accounting. I know she was doing extremely well in school. She made the President's list, Dean's list. It was just her dream," said James.

"Just a bright, shining example of what every father wants their daughter to be," said Randy Kusiv.

While her close knit family prays for her boyfriend, Jacob Materia, 19 of Jacksonville, and her friends 19-year-old Samantha Kasten of Coral Springs and the driver Sean Franke, 20 or Longwood, they take comfort knowing Dara had a strong faith.

"The Lord was alive in her heart, and I'm certain was there with her when she passed," Randy Kusiv said.

"We know she's up in heaven looking down on us," said James.

A visitation is planned for Sunday from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. at Baldwin Fairchild West Altamonte. Her funeral will be at the Annunciation Catholic Church in Altamonte Springs on Monday at 3 p.m.

First Coast News

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