The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 69.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

...04 Alum Dies in Fatal Car Crash

Two-Car Collision in Catskill Mountains Claims Three Lives Saturday

By Angeline Wang

Yuan Li ’04, former New House resident, died in a two-car head-on collision Saturday afternoon in the Catskill Mountains in New York state. Two other passengers in the same vehicle — Hui Wang, a junior at Harvard, and Li’s girlfriend Zhengying (Carly) Gu from New York City — were also killed.

Alcohol and drugs were not a factor, according to New York State Police at Kingston.

The accident, which occurred around 1:40 p.m. Saturday on Route 28 in the town of Olive, NY, involved a 2006 Mazda with five passengers and a Ford Expedition with two, according to a NY State Police report. A second police report released the names of those involved. Li, Wang, and Gu were passengers in the Mazda.

The Mazda was westbound on Route 28 when it crossed into the eastbound lane. The Ford Expedition swerved left in an attempt to avoid the smaller car but ended up hitting it head-on in the middle of the road.

Li, 26, and Gu, 26, both residents of New York City, died at the scene. The other three passengers in the Mazda — Wang, 22; Yanming Fang, 28; and Wentao Mo, 25 — were airlifted to local-area hospitals. Wang later passed away at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson, NY.

Fang, the Mazda’s driver, was admitted to Albany Medical Center in critical condition, and Mo was admitted to St. Francis Hospital in stable condition, according to the police reports.

The collision caused the Ford Expedition to catch fire, but both the driver and the passenger were out of the vehicle at that point. The driver Catherine Whitelaw, 67, and passenger Florence Palmer, 88, both from Lanesville, NY, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were admitted to Benedictine Hospital in stable condition.

Li’s parents, who live in Guangzhou, China, arrived in New York City last night. The Chinese Embassy in New York helped arrange transportation to the US. LS Power Group, a private equity firm that Li worked for, is paying for the hotel fare and the possible funeral arrangements, according to Sharon Wong, a long-time friend of Li’s who also works at LS Power.

The case is still under investigation, and the cause of the accident has not been released. It is unclear if seatbelts were used.