Visiting student dies from bike-crash injuries | News | Palo Alto Online |


Visiting student dies from bike-crash injuries

Yichao Wang was in a coma since Feb. 3 bike/car collision; fundraising drive launched to aid family

A fundraising drive has been launched to pay for medical care and family expenses for Yichao Wang, a visiting Ph.D. student from China who was studying at Stanford University, who died Friday after being critically injured in a bicycle/car accident Feb. 3.

Wang, 25, had been in a coma since he was hit by a car while bicycling to his residence at 9:30 p.m. when his bicycle collided with a car at Palm Drive and Museum Way.

He had been attending Stanford for the winter quarter through the Signapore-Stanford Partnership, a research/teaching program between Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Stanford's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, according to Stanford officials. He was studying how membranes can absorb pharmaceutical residues in wastewater treatment.

Wang was on his way from the campus laboratory when he collided with the car, according to Stanford. The collision is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

Wang's parents held a vigil by their son's side at Stanford Hospital for a week prior to his being pronounced dead, traveling from Harbin in far northern China, where Wang was raised. His wife of two years, Gao, a fellow student in Singapore, also was with him.

Sujie Qin, a post-doctoral researcher in Wang's lab who along with colleagues has been serving as a translator and liaison for the family, said the parents had been hoping for a "miracle" for Wang, their only child.

"They put every hope on their son," Qin said prior to Wang's death. "They are wishing that Yichao will wake up. They want to transfer him back to China and take care of him there, but that's not possible right now."

Wang "really valued the chance to study at Stanford and worked very hard. He stayed late in the lab every day, doing experiments." She said he was "a very nice person, one of those people who always smiles."

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford Hospital and the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Stanford University joined forces to assist the family, who have "a very limited income to cover travel and medical expenses," Qin said.

Funds are being raised through the Chinese Mutual Aid International Network. The group's websie,, includes , tells how to make a donation.

Stanford Police Chief Laura Wilson. said she hopes this "very tragic circumstance" will alert the campus "to the importance of wearing bicycle helmets, and the need to be vigilant about safety at all times, whether you are a bicyclist or driving a vehicle."

Stanford due to past safety-promotion efforts is recognized as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. In the past four years, an average of 49 bicycle accidents a year have been serious enough to be reported to Stanford's Department of Public Safety, though very few have resulted in serious traumatic injuries or head injuries.

-- Palo Alto Weekly staff

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Gordon Reade
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2010 at 8:08 pm

A very sad story.

Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 20, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Our condolences to the parents. What a terrible tragedy!

Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm

How tragic! My heart and prayers go out to his parents.

Like this comment
Posted by It's NotMe
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm

So why does the article fail to mention if anyone was at fault. Was someone driving too fast,ant suspicion of drugs or alcohol?

Like this comment
Posted by Ron
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm

In most cases when a pedestrian or bicyclist is killed, the police will not assign blame unless they can easily prove it (e.g., drug test or driving on the sidewalk or multiple eye witnesses).

Best thing to do now is support the living victims (parents and spouse).

Like this comment
Posted by long time
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Who was the one who hit this man? Why is there no mention of that in this story?

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Fortunately there have been only 2 bike fatalities in the last 20 yrs on campus despite the fact that bikers on campus blow through stop sign and red lights most of the time.

Like this comment
Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 22, 2010 at 9:49 am

Shame. I have been hit by cars 3 times biking on Stanford campus, people fail to yield the right of way. Palm/Museum intersection is a stop sign? Did he ride through intersection when a car was making a turn?

Like this comment
Posted by cyclist
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2010 at 11:10 am

Tragic. Stanford needs to teach and promote bicycle safety. How many Stanford cyclists know that while riding a bicycle you need to follow the same rules as cars? How many times have I seen a cyclist blow through a stop sign thinking they have the right of way because they are in a crosswalk? If they want to follow the same rules as a pedestrian, they must be WALKING their bike. I wonder if something like that happened in this case.

Like this comment
Posted by Motorist/pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2010 at 11:46 am

I'm so sorry for his family and wife. What a tragedy. The person who hit him also probably feels completely horrible. I'd like to know what exactly happened. I know the intersection very well and all of Palm Drive and campus where bicycles and cars merge are dangerous in my opinion. I'm always afraid of hitting an invisible bicyclist at night when I'm on campus. It's true they speed by and don't always observe the rules. I'm particularly cautious when pulling out of parking places too. The bikes just whiz by with no warning or lights... invisible... so I am super cautious and even roll down my window and stick my head out to make sure. One other thing... as a pedestrian I am also very afraid of the bicyclists... especially when the school year starts in September in front of campus. It's almost impossible to cross the street when classes are out. I'm glad for the guards they have out there helping everyone (like near the bookstore).

Like this comment
Posted by Sally
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 22, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Invisible bicyclists are a real issue. Is there any way to direct the fund raising to distributing bicycle lights that flash and reflectors on campus to all students? Can the medical bills be "forgiven" and the fundraising used to support his family and safety issues?

Like this comment
Posted by janet
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Very sad. Biking is no doubt safer in China. However, it is truly amazing that more accidents don't happen on campus. In the evening bikes whizz by every which way with no heed to cars or pedestrians. Often the riders are in dark clothes, have no helmets, no reflectors and no lights. They also frequently do not stop at the stop signs and seem to think they are immortal. The university and the campus police should be more vigilant concerning safety equipment.

Like this comment
Posted by Floyd
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 22, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I stopped riding about 3 years ago after 40 years of biking (at age 83)at the request of my family, after an accident on the campus. It was no one's fault. I was on a bike path that went round a tree. Unfortunately for me there was loose dirt and my bike slid out from under me and threw me at the tree. Banged my head (MRI) and fractured my collar bone and two ribs. Guess I'm lucky but even in Palo Alto, you have to beware of motorists and other bicyclists.
It's safer in a gym (where I exercise almost every day but god-awful boring.
My sincere condolences to his family.

Like this comment
Posted by driver
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm

On Thursday morning I was driving west on campus drive east in the left hand lane and stopped for the stop sign at Escondido. A student bicyclist coming from the apartments on Escondido rode through the intersection and then abruptly without warning made a u-turn in front me. If the driver to the right of me in the adjacent lane had pulled out after stopping, he would have hit this fellow. Luckily, no one pulled out, but I thought of all the lame-brain things to do. Take a moment to think. Distracted driving of any type of vehicle can lead to bad consequences.

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm

The fact is that bikers on campus and in PA do not obey stops signs, this is dangerous anytime but particularly at dark.
A few months ago while walking our dog, on leash, was was hit by a bike zooming along Bryant at N California.
He had no lights,was listening to his ipod, we shouted to warn him but he just blew through and he worked for a bike store.
Nice bike nice guy, but he seemed to break his collar bone in the tumble.

Biking is great but at dark they need bright lights and caution.

During school commute times most people give students the benefit of the doubt but after dark it is the bikers who need to be visible and obey the laws.

Like this comment
Posted by danny
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:15 am

Permission for Palo Alto Online to post the following in its online comments is hereby granted, but only in its entirety:

I posted the following comment under the Stanford Daily opinion Feb 22 "Befriend Your Brain", involving bicycle helmets. Web Link


I am a person who is passing out my discount bike repair flyers to some of the residences. I’ve worked on campus for many years on and off, doing bicycle work and other kinds of work, often commuting on bicycle.

On my bike repair web page, I mentioned that a few years ago I wanted to get hired as the university’s bicycle coordinator, and that if I had been hired, one of the things I’d have done would be to put up a bunch of those yellow caution signs for cars to see with a sketch of a bicycle. So instead of blaming the victims as a reaction to bike accidents, let’s look at Stanford bicycle policy and policy makers a little more critically.

I should say here that I believe students should wear a helmet. I wear a bike helmet whenever I ride. I agree that a helmet at the bikeshop for $20, partially subsidized by the university, is a good deal.

But as a homeless guy screwed over in the employment system, I can say that helmet promotion needs to be something other than occupational capital to paste over larger corruption. I’m tired of watching carefully selected employees with prestigious resumes who “got there” for all the wrong reasons and feel entitled to degrade and push out others, like me, from the economy.

Here are other points I put on my flat tire web page about what I would have done if I had been hired as the bicycle coordinator:

- The bicycle coordinator would become responsible for creating standards for bikeshops doing business on campus.
- The University would not dictate or facilitate bike licensing.
- The cement things in White Plaza would never have been put there.
- The University would have purchased a couple tandem bicycles so the visually disabled students could ride once in a while.
- I’d move the bicycle coordinator job away from the transportation department and police department, or at least create a multi-department standing committee.

Saying these things might not help my new bike repair business, but it’s a way of opposing the system I disagree with that I’d be contributing to.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2010 at 8:21 am

From what I've read of the accident details, it doesn't seem very likely that a simple bike helmet would have helped in this case. He landed 128 feet from point of impact for gods sake. I'm a little disturbed that the media is stating with absolute certainty that a bike helmet would have prevented this outcome. From the details we have plus the comments above, it seems that reckless or improper riding techniques are a major cause of crashes on the campus. Creating a culture of courtesy and patience will do a lot more good now and in the long run than will subsidizing helmets. Not that helmets are a bad thing.

Like this comment
Posted by Ashley
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 23, 2010 at 7:02 pm

This is horrible. But why is there a fundraiser to pay back Stanford for his medical expenses? International students are required to have Cardinal Care as far as I know. I hope Stanford does the right thing and doesn't take the money raised, as his parents were planning on depending on their son financially.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Anne Le Ziblatt, formerly of Tamarine and Bong Su, is back with a Vietnamese noodle bar in Redwood City
By Elena Kadvany | 7 comments | 3,226 views

Local Pols Debate Climate
By Sherry Listgarten | 10 comments | 2,642 views

Letting Christmas Linger
By Cheryl Bac | 5 comments | 1,393 views

The E.R.A. – no real equality yet. Why not?
By Diana Diamond | 13 comments | 858 views

Truth Matters (and so does good beer)
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 682 views