Estate of Nepalese doctor who hanged himself 8 years ago awarded US$200,000

Dr Shiva Lal Acharya
Dr Shiva Lal Acharya, who killed himself in a Pennsylvania jail in 2008

The estate of a Nepalese doctor who hanged himself in a Pennsylvania jail in 2008 has been awarded US $200,000 by a United States federal court.

The 33 year old doctor, Shiva Lal Acharya, had killed himself in his cell on 13 December 2008 as he waited for his court appearance in a hit and run case involving his BMW. His family claimed that the jail authorities knew Dr Acharya was suicidal but did little to stop the tragic end to this meritorious life.

The lawyers for his estate argued that the jail staffs should have been on alert because another inmate had committed suicide in the same cell where the Nepalese doctor used his multiple bed sheets to hang from the fire sprinkler.

Dr Acharya was a practicing physician in Chicago. He was charged in September 2008 with the death of a motorcycle-bound man on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a toll highway in Pennsylvania. Before he hit and killed the victim, police in Ohio had tried to pull him over for speeding but he fled which triggered a police chase which apparently reached 210 kilometres per hour. The police chase was eventually called off when he crossed into Pennsylvania.

According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, after Dr. Acharya crashed in Pine, he ran into the woods and hid for four hours. Police on foot and using a helicopter caught him and took him to jail.

Back in 2008, Dr Acharya’s death was rued by his former colleagues and fellow-students in Kathmandu where stories of his journey from a humble upbringing in his village south of Kathmandu to scholarship at Kathmandu Teaching Hospital to his migration to New York in 2005 made heart-rending news stories. Some blamed him for having left the victim dying, or dead, on the road whereas as a medical practitioner he should have stayed put.

Media reports also said it was his struggle with bipolar disorder, alcohol abuse and a failed marriage that eventually led to the doctor’s tragic downfall.

Even on the fateful day when he hit and killed the motorcyclist, he was on his way from Chicago to Easton in Pennsylvania for a job interview.

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