York space engineering student killed in tragic crash

Atena Arabsalmany, a third-year student in York’s Space Engineering Program in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, was one of two women killed when the car they were riding in collided with another vehicle and burst into flames on Halloween night.

Right: Atena Arabsalmany 

The accident, which reports said occurred around 10:30pm on Bayview Avenue near 16th Avenue in Richmond Hill, also killed Atena’s friend, Niloufar Khanverdizadeh, 21, of Richmond Hill, whose cousin Sepideh Javadi Kalehsar is a York student.

Kalehsar said Arabsalmany was a dear friend whose death “needs to be recognized” and that she and her twin sister loved both girls very much. “Atena was a very intelligent girl, she worked very hard,” said Kaleshar. “We used to study together all the time. She was like a sister to me.”

Kalehsar said the two women and the driver were on their way to pick up Kalehsar and her twin sister so they could stay together at a friend’s house instead of going out for Halloween. “We saw Atena right at [the mall] before she went to my cousin’s,” she said. “But it was late and we were trying to contact them to tell them we weren’t going to go,” Kalehsar said.

When Kalehsar called Khanverdizadeh’s mother to try to reach her friends, she was told Niloufar had left her cell phone at home. “We thought they must have gone for a drive or something,” she said. Then she got a call at 5am with the news that both her friend and her cousin had been killed in the accident; the driver was in critical condition.

“NASA was her ultimate dream,” Kalehsar said of Arabsalmany. “She won a green card lottery and was going to study in the US.” Arabsalmany was taking courses to further that dream and was a member of York’s Women in Computer Science & Engineering (WiCSE) group. Her friend recalled how Arabsalmany was often the only female in her class. “She was a very nice girl, very easy-going,” said Kalehsar. “We used to laugh about the dumbest things.”