Nineteen-year-old Nadiia Misa, a student from Ukraine, had signed up for a bike safety course shortly after her arrival in Rehoboth Beach in May, but she ended up canceling it.
On June 6, police said, she was riding her bike across Route 1 when she was struck and critically injured. She died an hour later.
"She was a sweet, sweet girl," said Pleasant McCarty, friend and roommate of Misa's. "She loved being here and learning new things."
McCarty said this was Misa's first time in the United States, and she missed her family but spoke with them every day. "She became family to us in just three weeks," she said.
Misa may have been returning to McCarty's Beachfield home from a bike trip to Walmart when the accident occurred, McCarty said.
She said she has tried to offer her help and condolences to Misa's family, but it's not easy because of the language barrier.
"It all happened so fast this weekend," McCarty said. "It's all a blur right now."
Misa's cousin, Iryna Kurochka, said in an email that Nadiia was loved by everyone, and she had a way of touching people's hearts and motivating them.
"Nadiia always had a smile on her face and saw the bright side of every situation," Kurochka said, adding Misa was a top student at the National University of Food Technology in Kiev. She also loved to draw.
"She was a very hard worker and always dreamt of working in America. Her family and friends were shocked by the accident and are still in denial that such a beautiful soul is gone," Kurochka said.
Maryanne Kaufmann, a volunteer with the International Student Outreach Program, said she had a brief email exchange with Misa in May when Misa contacted Kaufmann about a bike-safety program offered by the group.
“Nadia was scheduled to take a class May 18 but had to cancel,” Kaufmann said.
The program provides free bicycles and helmets to foreign students who complete a safety course. At the end of the course, she said, students get a bike tour of Rehoboth Beach and its surroundings.
Now, Kaufmann said, her group is setting up a fund for Misa's family. Anyone interested in donating can do so at Community Bank Delaware, P.O. Box 742, Lewes, DE 19958. Make donations payable to LRAC SBO Nadiia Misa.
Misa was working at Kohr Brothers in Rehoboth Beach for about a month when the crash cut short her life.
Misa was riding her bike at 8:50 p.m. June 5 when she attempted to cross Route 1, riding east at the intersection of Miller Road, just north of Rehoboth Beach, said Master Cpl. Jeffrey Hale of the Delaware State Police.
As Misa began to cross the southbound lanes, Hale said, she was struck by a 2005 Chrysler Crossfire, operated by Daniel L. Furr Jr., 30, of Dover. Furr was traveling in the center lane of Route 1 with a green traffic signal, Hale said.
The force of the impact threw the bicyclist into the left-hand lane of the road where she came to rest. Hale said Furr was able to stop his car in the bus lane of southbound Route 1.
Misa was taken to Beebe Healthcare by Emergency Medical Services where she was admitted in critical condition. She was later transferred to Christiana Hospital. Hale said Misa was pronounced dead about 7:45 a.m. June 6.
Furr, who was properly restrained at the time of the crash, was not injured. Hale provided no further information on whether Furr would be charged or cited.
Bicycle safety a priority
For Tony Pezone and fellow members of the Sussex Cyclists, bicycle safety is paramount. Pezone said members and officials from Delaware State Police and the Department of Transportation set up weekly stations along Route 1 to hand out free helmets and lights.
“Most people take lights,” he said. “A lot of students turn down the helmets for various reasons, like it might mess up their hair.”
The group also passes out pamphlets written in five languages that outline the rules of the road. Pezone said bike safety depends on both cyclists and drivers.
“It's a busy road and there's no bike lane,” he said.
Bikes and buses share a lane on the far right, but too many times, he said, cars race down the lane passing slower traffic on the left.
“Cars use the bike and bus lane when they shouldn't,” he said.
However, he said, he has also watched bicyclists ride the wrong way on Route 1 – riding against traffic instead of with it.
Pezone said his group started its safety push about 10 years ago after a Polish woman was killed near Route 24.
“I'd like to think we do some good, but some people just ride by,” he said.
Anca Radoi, officer with CSB International, the group that sponsored Misa's exchange, said Misa's extended family has arranged a memorial service at Fetcher-Nasevich Funeral Home, 9529 Bustleton Ave., Philadelphia. The time and date have not yet been set.
Insurance will pay for the care of Misa's body here and transportation to Ukraine, she said.
Radoi said Misa was studying in Kiev, and her parents are from Darakhiv, Ukraine.
Kauffman said pastoral care will be provided during free dinners 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, at Epworth United Methodist Church, Wednesday, June 10, at St. Edmond’s Catholic Church, and Thursday, June 11, at Lutheran Church of our Savior. Counseling will be provided on an as-needed basis by emailing J1Rehoboth@gmail.com.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with new information. Insurance will pay for the care of Misa's body here and transportation to Ukraine; donations will go to Misa's family.