Seven-year-old Ava Sangavaram appeared in her 2013 class photo with a broad smile on her face. But on Friday, her second grade classmates at Woodglen Elementary School knew she was absent but very little if anything about why.
Eddie Caban, Jr. said, “I was hoping she was okay. My class talked about it that we hope for good things to happen for her.”
Eight-year-old Eddie, who is in Ava’s class, said he did not want anything bad to happen to her. Ava was taken to Westchester Medical Center on Thursday afternoon after she was found with multiple lacerations and lying next to her mother’s body. Clarkstown Police reported Friday that the young girl was in stable condition after undergoing surgery.
The Rockland County Medical Examiner determined that her mother, 45-year-old and died as a result of two self-inflicted incised wounds on her neck. Kristappa Sangavaram, 69, discovered their bodies just after 1 p.m. on Thursday and called 911.
Eddie’s parent who attended a meeting at Woodglen that administrators and counselors organized for parents said, “I think it was handled in a professional manner. I think they did their job in reassuring parents that everything would be all right.”
The parent expressed shock at what happened to Ava and said, “As a school, a community we would just like our best wishes, thoughts and prayers to go out to this girl and her family.”
Clarkstown Assistant Superintendent John LaNave said Dr. Howie Mandel, the chair of the district’s psychological services department, and his team was at Woodglen all day Friday and would return on Monday. LaNave said the school’s staff met with grief counselors and psychologists before classes started and when they ended for a debriefing. The team also held a meeting with parents in the early afternoon meeting so they could talk about how to discuss the incident with their children.
“It was an emotional day for the staff,” he said.
LaNave said some not many of the students knew what happened to Ava and her mother although some had questions.
“The issue was only addressed where there was a question,” he said.
Little seemed to known about Vovchik and her daughter by their neighbors on Quarry Drive in New City. At one nearby house on the block of stately homes, a woman said she did not know the mother or daughter.
A resident of a house across the street declined to give her name but said, “It’s tragic. There are no other words.”