Family Of Injured Emporia State Student Issues Call For Help

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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UPDATE: Friday, February 8, 2013

Emporia Police say charges will likely be filed against the driver who hit an international student crossing the street leaving the student hospitalized in a coma.

The jeep driven by 72-year-old Patricia Sutton of Americus hit Huang in a crosswalk last November.

Emporia Police met with the city prosecutor Thursday night, Interim Police Chief Scott Cronk said. The prosecutor will review the case. Officers are expected to send the prosecutor their recommendations for charges, Cronk said.

Following the investigation, it appears to Emporia Police that Sutton committed a traffic violation before she struck the student, Cronk said.

Cronk says initially they held off proceeding with the charges because of Yali's medical condition.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reijie Huang sits clutching a photograph in a hospital room in Wichita's Wesley Medical Center. The small laminated picture is the last image he has of his daughter, Yali, before she left China to pursue her American dream as a foreign exchange student at Emporia State University.

Yali's dream was shattered in an Emporia crosswalk just two months after her journey began. On November 1, 2012, a Jeep, driven by Patricia Sutton, 72, of Americus, struck Yali, 23, as she crossed the 1500 block of Merchant Street.

"Our heart was broken," Reijie and his wife, Bixiang, said through an interpreter.

It took time for Yali's parents to get a visa to come to the United States and be with their daughter.

"(We) begged the doctors to do the best they could to save our daughter's life," Bixiang said.

Reijie and Bixiang say their daughter's heart stopped three times during treatment and Yali fell into a coma that lasted ten weeks.

As they struggled seeing their once lively daughter as a bedridden patient, they also struggled in a foreign land where they didn't know anyone and didn't speak the language.

One struggle is over.

Yali recently woke up from the coma. It's a miraculous turnaround, one that Yali's parents say doctors didn't expect. They say they are so thankful to the Wesley Medical Center team.

But Reijie and Bixiang say they have been told their daughter will never speak using her own mouth, she will never use her legs, and she will never eat without a feeding tube. She has limited awareness of her surroundings due to her severe brain injury.

And, the hospital bills to help Yali get to this point are simply overwhelming.

"It cost us more than one million dollars for the past treatment," they said.

Now that her treatment at Wesley has reached this point. They've been told Yali needs to move to another facility for rehabilitation.

"(I) want to find a special hospital in the States to get treatment for Yali," Bixiang said.

But that too will cost money and comes with numerous other challenges.

Yali's student insurance policy will not cover the rehabilitation care. Reijie and Bixiang say they now feel like they are out of options and don't know where to turn.

So, now, in addition to clinging to the photograph of Yali, they cling to hope.

They hope that the community can help them fulfill their new American dream, to take care of their daughter.

The family has set up a fund at Bank of America. Checks can be made to Huang Bixiang and mailed to 120 N. Chelmsford Court, Wichita, KS 67230.

The Emporia State University Chinese Student and Scholars Association plans to accept donations during its Chinese Spring Festival Gala 2013. That event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Albert Taylor Hall on the ESU Campus.

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