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Last Crash Victim Buried; Life “Beneath the Radar” Recounted

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Seven weeks after the tragic casino bus accident in the Bronx, friends and loved ones gathered in Chinatown yesterday to remember Wang Jianhua, the last of 15 victims to be buried.  The funeral was delayed while his widow waited for a visa to travel from her home in China’s Fujian Province.

The story of Wang’s life and death was recounted in a heartbreaking article by Kirk Semple in the March 21st edition of the New York Times.  The report offered a rare glimpse at the struggles facing many newly arrived immigrants in Chinatown:

(After arriving from China) Mr. Wang moved into a tiny apartment on Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side with five other men, including a friend from Fujian. They slept in bunk beds and the place was loud with the constant rumble of traffic from the nearby off-ramp of the Manhattan Bridge. Mr. Wang bought a bicycle and found a job as a deliveryman at Iron Sushi, a restaurant in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan. He worked six days a week, his friends said, often in 12-hour shifts. Mr. Wang quickly fell into a grueling routine, his life pared down to its simplest components: work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep.

Wang, an illegal immigrant, was working to pay off a $75,000 smuggling debt.  He hoped to one day bring his wife and child to New York. Now his widow, Lin Yaofang, must go home to look for work. Semple reports today:

Ms. Lin said she planned to return to China soon, and hoped to find work; she assumed that her job as an office assistant in a boat factory had already been given to someone else. She said she could not see a way out from under the family’s smuggling debt. But she will be going home with some financial help. In response to articles about Mr. Wang published in The New York Times, readers have donated more than $5,000 to help his family. Readers and viewers of the Chinese-language news media in New York have also sent her checks, Ms. Lin said. “I’m really impressed by how kind Americans are,” she said.

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