Rhode Island Community Stunned by Accidental Death of 9-Year-Old

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Ani Emdjian lived well beyond her nine and a half years.

Nine-year-old Ani Emdjian reflected upon the goodness in life.
Nine-year-old Ani Emdjian reflected upon the goodness in life.

A third-grade student at Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, she loved to sing and dance at an Armenian hantess, was a dutiful student, and performed virtuously on the piano.

When she walked into a dark room, the sunshine poured through.

A bus accident on March 26 snatched away the child’s life, sending the state into a pall of grief. A crowd estimated at more than 2,000 mourners paid their respects, from every sector of the community including children and the elderly.

Ani had been a member for the past three years at St. Sahag/St. Mesrob Church where she cultivated a rather active lifestyle.

Like so many other children throughout the world, Ani was preparing to commemorate the Centennial with her fellow students at church with what she loved to do best—art and music.

A memorial shrine stands as a vigil at the site on Smith St., not far from the State House, where a bus struck her. The site is laden with stuffed animals, candles, and other objects, including an Armenian flag.

“It’s been very difficult for everyone,” said Konstantin Petrossian, the church’s cultural and music director. “Ani told me she had prepared some new music pieces for an upcoming concert just before she died. She loved to draw and play the piano.”

A “Go Fund Me” memorial account has raised more than $50,000 in her name to assist the family and other endeavors. Other benefits will be considered in time to assist charities.

“She always tried to make people feel better, that was her character,” said her uncle Ashot Emdjian. “So happy-go-lucky. Ani always paid attention to detail and craved to learn. She was very much into butterflies and insects that would make others skittish. Ani found beauty in everything.”

Ani’s father, 44-year-old Osheen Emdjian, is a DJ and owns his own record label called Blinded Records. Her mother is Marie McMillan. Ani was an only child.

Like any doting grandmother, Satenik Emdjian recalled their precious times together, shopping for clothes and books while under her care. They were “best friends.”

“I was her life and she was mine,” grieved the woman. “I’d take her to her activities after school and loved to watch her swim and perform. Such a natural talent and yet, she was stolen from us. I’m trying to remain strong for my family.”

An outpouring of support and bereavement has reached the family from City Hall and the mayor to the students of her school and places like the YMCA that she frequented. Among them is community activist Stephen Elmasian, who acted as somewhat of a liaison with the community.

“I was waiting for that little angel to wake up,” he said, choked with emotion. “Here we are on the cusp of a Genocide Centennial when many young girls were put to death in 1915. The loss of this child in our midst sends this entire community into an endless cycle of disbelief and sorrow.”


Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.

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  1. I’ll never understand why these things happen to young lives who haven’t gotten a chance to spread their wings. We are all devastated by the tragic loss of beautiful Ani. That angelic face will forever be with me. I didn’t have the pleasure of having met Ani but I’ve known her dad and his family for many years. May they all find comfort knowing that their beautiful girl touched so many lives. Rest in peace sweet Ani♡

  2. This is extremely sad. The death of a child is the most painful and difficult experience any parent will ever have.
    Better than any words I can craft together, here is a writing by an anonymous person that was sent to me when I lost my daughter.
    “I seem to be falling apart
    My attention span can be measured in seconds,
    My patience in minutes,
    I cry at the drop of a hat,
    Feelings of anxiety and restlessness are my constant companions,
    Rainy days seem extra dreary
    Sunny days seem an outrage.
    Laughing , happy people seem out of place in my world.
    It has become routine to feel half crazy.
    I am normal I am told
    I am a newly grieving person.”

    A heartfelt message to Osheen.
    Your pain is cruel realty.
    As Mark Twain wrote when he lost his daughter:
    ” It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder stroke like this and live”
    May Ani soar with the angels. And may the Emdjian family find the way to dwell on fond and beautiful memories.
    Vart Adjemian

  3. What a tragedy, I extend my deepest condolences to the family, it is very hard to loose a child, Asdvadz hokin lousavore.

  4. Very sad news, she seemed like such a special little angel. Prayers to her family, this must be so hard for them.

  5. My heart cracked and broke when I read this. Ani, I am so so sorry this happened to you, and your family has to be in a special kind of hell right now. I also am a doting “Medz Mama” of a nine year old only child and she is my heart. I am grieving for you… my tears are many.

  6. I am crying with a deep heartache. May Ani rest in peace eternally. may god give her mom, dad and all the Emdjian family comfort and peace .
    yes I vow to you all , I am going to enlarge her pictures and hang one in my room and another one in my 22 year old daughter Annie’s bedroom wall. With love forever. I am sure I will lay my flower someday soon on Our angel Ani, coming from California.

  7. It is so sad and headache to read and understand this.
    Whenever a child is taken from this world, the disbelief and shock must never be ending.
    A child, a gift of God and Love, will never be replaced.
    This huge pain and sorrows are shared and will be shared by everyone.
    I only pray for her and her family to find a new beginning to possibly remember her through this new thing.
    A belief, a new child, and deed for the world, perhaps.
    I share with everyone their pain and suffering.
    It is only during this month of rememberance and commemoration of Our Genocide, must be more hurtful for all her mom, dad, and siblings and all who knew her.
    God Bless.
    My prayers for little Ani Emdjian and her dear family.

  8. Our entire family is praying for Marie, Osheen and Satenig and of course Ani. No other words can be found to describe the emotion when reading this story.

  9. Ani had a wonderful soul and everytime I saw her my eyes would light up with excitement and joy. peace be with rest for ever in heavenly peace. and it is nice knowing I got to spend time with her and my peace and condolence is with the family at all times good friends must say hello to say goodbye even though we are only kids we had a very good friendship I love you ani forever may your soul rest.

  10. To my “brothers” (and family) I had only just recently been informed of your tragic loss . Please accept my most sincere apologies for not finding out sooner as well as my most heartfelt condolences, my heart bleeds for you all . You have all been in my thoughts and prayers every day since . I hope you can all find some comfort & peace in the memories you hold closest to your heart .

  11. Me and Ani were very good friends. I remember when we were in the same class (Mrs.Katz Room:15) Ani me and other friends made a song the song went {I love God,Heaven,Jesus and all I love creatures from big to small} And It’s amazing how she wrote about God Heaven And Jesus She never figured 1 year later she would got to Heaven and meet God and Find out about Jesus.I love Ani I miss her so much I would give up my life for her to have hers back -J’daniz Ani I know you’re reading this from Heaven and I just wanna tell you, I love you so much you were the best friend a girl could have when I heard about your death I never stopped crying I love you so much Ani your the world without you everything falls apart

    • She was my cousin as well, yesterday was her birthday and now I’m looking back at all of this just crying.

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