The The Chinese American Association of Lexington [CAAL] is asking the public's assistance to aid a family after a tragic car accident that left four, including a former Lexington resident, dead.
"While we are celebrating the new year with family and friends and feeling grateful for what we have, it is also time to think about the less fortunate people," a release from CAAL states. "With a very saddened heart, we'd like to tell you about an unspeakable tragedy involving a former Lexington resident and her relatives as we ask the community to reach out and help the families."
The accident happened on December 14 at around 8:10 p.m on a highway in Gainesville, Florida as the occupants were on their way to Orlando.
At the time, a white Toyota pickup truck was traveling in the left northbound lane on I-75. It began hydroplaning when the driver tried to change lanes. The truck left the northbound lanes, went over the grass median, and began to roll over. The truck then collided with the front of a Nissan traveling southbound.
According to Florida’s highway patrol, the cab of the Toyota truck was split in half; the driver of the truck died on the scene, the release states.
In the sedan sat four relatives, all Chinese citizens; one a former Lexington resident, the release states.
The driver, 30-year-old Cong (Lisa) Ma, worked in Massachusetts and was a Lexington resident for the past three years. She had just moved to a condo in Billerica.
Haijiao Sun was 26 years old and had graduated from Troy University the day before. He had prepared to return to China with his father and aunt on Jan. 20.
"He had a set of new dreams and ambitions, and was ready to roll up his sleeves to start a career," the release states.
Haijiao’s father, 55-year-old Sun Xiaoguang of Shenyang, China, came to the United States just two weeks ago to attend his son’s graduation.
Lisa’s mother, 57-year-old Sun Xinyan of Shenyang, China, accompanied her brother, Xiaoguang, to the United States to attend the graduation.
"They were on their way to Orlando, Fla., where they planned to spend a fun week vacationing with tour group traveling the East and West coasts before returning to China," the release states.
Xinyan and Xiaoguang died on the scene. Lisa and Haijiao died in a hospital in Florida a week later. The tragic accident broke the two closely linked families into pieces. Lisa and Haijiao were both only children.
Yuqi Ma, who lost both his wife and daughter, and Yujing Tian, who lost both her son and ex-husband, left China for Florida in December and are now back to Lisa’s condo in Massachusetts for a short stay before returning to China on Jan. 22.
"They are living with great pain in every waking moment," the release says. "It is heart wrenching to see what these two families are going through. They are still coming to terms with this tremendous loss. Mr. Ma was recently admitted to Lahey Clinic due to heart problems."
The Chinese community in Lexington is rallying to take care of the families’ daily needs. The relief effort also includes raising funds for the families.
The families have incurred funeral home expenses in excess of $28,000 and they are facing travel and lodging expenses from and to China and within the states that are piling up fast, and a myriad of other expenses. Due to Mr. Ma's medical condition, he will need a business class ticket to go back to China and such a ticket alone will cost more than $3,000.
CAAL has set up a relief fund at Santander Bank for the families. They would like to reach out to the broader Lexington community to help since this is the community Lisa has lived in for the past three years.
Make donations by sending a check to the following address: CAAL, “CAAL DBA Ma/Sun Family Relief Fund,” PO Box 453, Lexington, MA 02420.
People can also use firstname.lastname@example.org to send money via Paypal. In the purpose field, enter "Ma/Sun Family Relief Fund".
CAAL is also inviting the public to join the memorial service of the four victims and support the families. The service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan 18, at the Greater Boston Chinese Bible Church, 149 Spring St.