Family of woman killed in June hit-and-run crash sets up foundation to keep her legacy alive

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of a woman killed in a drunk driving crash says they are looking forward and focusing on doing something positive in the wake of her death. While the driver is in jail awaiting her day in court.

Police and prosecutors say Shabazz Frencher, 22, traveled nearly 100 miles per hour through Midtown when she struck and killed a woman on her way home. It happened in June.

At the time, the Kansas City Police Department shared photos of the suspect’s car ditched in a nearby neighborhood. They also shared photos of the cars from traffic cameras hoping someone could identify them. The driver turned herself into police, after they say she tried to conceal the owner’s identity before leaving it in a neighborhood.

Frencher allegedly hit and killed 23-year-old Zahara Kathawalla as she was trying to cross the street. Five months after her death the driver accused of killing her is under arrest.

Kathawalla’s family says their loss is immense and are leaving her a legacy. They say Zahara’s 23 years on this earth were filled to the brim. Her mother, Farida Kathawalla, and her sister, Ummul, say she had an adventurous spirit that was infectious and inspiring.

“I was just always amazed in her energy and ability to try new things that was so brave, and she has so much courage to do so,” Ummul said.

​Zahara graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Business School and moved to Kansas City a year-and-a-half ago for work. Her family says she made friends wherever she went, including during her travels to 40 different countries. Her favorite was Vietnam. 

“A beautiful life like this. She had everything going,” Farida said. “She had love from everywhere. She gave love to everyone.”

Early on June 21, she was walking home with a friend when police say Frencher’s car hit and killed her at a high ratee of speed. Court documents reveal Frencher admitted to police she was heavily intoxicated and intentionally drag racing at the time of the incident.

Through a crash recreation, investigators were able to determine seconds before the crash Frencher was going nearly 100 miles per hour. 

Frencher was charged with first degree involuntary manslaughter or the alternative DWI death of another passenger, felony leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and driving without a valid license.

Police told FOX4 in June charges would take time due to evidence collection, and the process of crime scene reconstruction. Kathawalla’s family says the are relieved to see movement in the case.

“How could she have gone so early. We are unable to process that in our minds,” Farida said.

Her family says what is more important than how Zahara died, is how she lived. They set up the Zahara Kathawalla Foundation. It’s aimed to help recipients see the world and improve their health and educational goals. All things that were incredibly important to Zahara.

“This foundation really is meant to be Zahara’s legacy in the way that we know her so well, and also give us as a family to pour all of our love that has no place to go anymore,” Ummul said.

“She would say — live the moment. Enjoy your time. The moment you have. With whatever you’re doing — enjoy that,” Farida said.

Frencher is being held at the Jackson County Jail on a $50,000 bond and will be back in court on November 16 for a bail hearing.

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