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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

UF law student dies after being hit by SUV

Early Monday morning, before many other UF students rolled out of bed or started classes, Catherine Barclift ran.

Barclift was training for a half marathon, her friends said. It was a part of her new health kick.

But Barclift won't participate in the half marathon. A day after she was hit by a car during a jog around 8:30 a.m. Monday, she died at Shands at UF.

Barclift, a 22-year-old law student, suffered severe head injuries after an SUV hit her at 34th Street and Radio Road, said Lt. Keith Kameg, Gainesville Police Department spokesman.

She was thrown about 40 feet and was taken to the intensive care unit of Shands. Barclift died at about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Preliminary police reports state no charges will be filed against the driver, Kenneth Sarsony of Gainesville, Kameg said.

Witnesses told police Sarsony was traveling north in the inside lane of 34th Street, Kameg said. The light was green.

Barclift was attempting to cross the street while the do-not-walk signal was lit, he said.

"I'd do anything to bring her back," said Stephany Nino, one of Barclift's friends from Florida State University.

Barclift graduated from FSU in May.

Nino and Barclift studied abroad together in London in the summer of 2005.

Nino said they became friends because they would always end up together in the back of the line during tours.

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"That's where the friendship started," she said. "We were the slow ones."

Ever since London, Barclift and Nino were inseparable, she said.

"She was like my sister," Nino said.

She said she helped Barclift move to Gainesville a few months ago, before she started law school.

Barclift wanted to follow in her father's footsteps, Nino said. He's a lawyer.

Barclift was passionate about human rights issues and wanted to make a difference, Nino said.

Nino talked to Barclift for the last time Sunday night.

"She called me when I was taking a nap, and I told her I'd call her back. I never did," Nino said. "One day you're talking to your best friend, and the next day, she's dead."

When Nino got to the hospital Monday, she said she didn't recognize her best friend because she was so banged up.

Barclift always wanted to look her best, Nino said.

If she had been able to speak or move, Nino said Barclift would have probably made a fuss when doctors shaved her head.

Barclift was in a coma after being hit, said Kate McCoy, another friend of Barclift's from FSU.

"Even though she couldn't respond, they said she could still hear us," McCoy said. "That was comforting."

McCoy and Barclift were members of FSU's chapter of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority.

As soon as McCoy heard Barclift was in an accident, she came to Gainesville.

She also created a Facebook group Tuesday called "I'm praying for Catherine Barclift." As of Tuesday night, 483 people belonged to the group.

McCoy said Barclift's favorite hobby was shopping.

"So many times we just ate beans for dinner because she wanted to go shopping," McCoy said with a laugh.

McCoy said she's still in shock over her best friend's death. She hasn't allowed herself to let the grief sink in because she wanted to hold herself together in front of Barclift's family and other friends, she said.

"I thought there should be at least one person holding it together," McCoy said. "The hardest part is yet to come."

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