Child’s death leads to ‘pledge’ cam­paign

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By AMY HE in New York amyhe@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The par­ents of Al­li­son Hope Liao, a 3-year-old Chi­nese-Amer­i­can girl who was killed three years ago by a car in Queens, New York, are ask­ing New York driv­ers to pledge that they will never take some­one’s life.

Hsi-Pei Liao and Amy TamLiao are found­ing mem­bers of the ad­vo­cacy group “Fam­i­lies for Safe Streets”. It pro­vides crash vic­tims and their fam­i­lies a peer sup­port net­work, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

Now Al­li­son’s par­ents have gone a step fur­ther, and have started a so­cial me­dia cam­paign in her mem­ory. Des­ig­nated with the so­cial me­dia hash­tag #SafeDriverPledge, it asks New York­ers to pledge not to drive reck­lessly, ac­cord­ing to the Gothamist news web site.

Users spread the word on var­i­ous so­cial me­dia plat­forms by re­post­ing the mes­sage, “I pledge to never take some­one’s life be­cause I am driv­ing reck­lessly. I never want an­other fam­ily to lose a loved one be­cause I am rush­ing, an­gry or dis­tracted.”

Tam-Liao said that she and her hus­band started the cam­paign be­cause they want driv­ers to think about how their driv­ing can af­fect other peo­ple’s lives.

“No other fam­ily should have to lose a loved one through the kind of pain we have known be­cause a driver was in a hurry, be­came dis­tracted or re­acted an­grily at the wheel,” she told Gothamist.

At around 5:30 pm on Oc­to­ber 6, 2013, Al­li­son and her grand­mother were walk­ing in the cross­walk at Main Street at Cherry Av­enue in Flush­ing, home to one of the city’s largest Chi­nese im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties. A video cam­era on the dash­board of a pass­ing ve­hi­cle showed that Al­li­son and her grand­mother had the light. But Al­li­son was hit by a sport util­ity ve­hi­cle that was turn­ing onto Main Street, po­lice said.

The driver later ad­mit­ted that he had not checked for pedes­tri­ans when he turned his car. He did not face crim­i­nal charges for the fa­tal col­li­sion.

Ap­prox­i­mately 4,000 New York­ers are se­ri­ously in­jured by traf­fic crashes and more than 250 peo­ple are killed every year, ac­cord­ing to the city. Be­ing hit by a car is the lead­ing cause of in­jury-re­lated death for chil­dren un­der the age of 14.

Peter Koo, the New York City coun­cil mem­ber whose of­fice has been ac­tive in ad­vo­cat­ing on be­half of the Liao fam­ily af­ter Al­li­son’s death, said that it is the com­mu­nity’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure safety on the city’s streets.

“Too of­ten, we’ve seen driv­ers reck­lessly turn­ing into pedes­trian traf­fic, and too of­ten we’ve seen pedes­tri­ans cross­ing without first look­ing to see if a car is com­ing,” he wrote in an email to China Daily.

The driver of the car that hit her, Abu-Zayedeh, was not crim­i­nally charged be­cause pros­e­cu­tors said he wasn’t im­paired at the time. He re­ceived two tick­ets — fail­ure to yield to a pedes­trian and fail­ure to use due care — but they were voided in a court hear­ing that lasted only 47 sec­onds.

In Oc­to­ber 2015, he lost his li­cense for five years as a re­sult of a civil suit that the Liao fam­ily filed. If he drives or ap­plies for a li­cense dur­ing that time, the fam­ily will be awarded $100,000 in dam­ages.

Too of­ten, we’ve seen driv­ers reck­lessly turn­ing into pedes­trian traf­fic.” Peter Koo, the New York City coun­cil mem­ber

He also agreed to pay the fam­ily a fi­nan­cial set­tle­ment worth 75 per­cent of his net worth and took re­spon­si­bil­ity for Al­li­son’s death, writ­ing in a let­ter to the fam­ily, “I was not look­ing where I should have been when I turned my car, and that is the sole rea­son why she is dead.”

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