Best friends Christine Yan and Isabelle Zhang, both 24 years old, were walking in a Lakewood crosswalk on March 12 when they were hit by a car and killed.
“They wanted to bring food and clothes for my cousin, who’s expecting,” Yan’s cousin and roommate, Elizabeth Hong, said.
Hong rushed to the scene near Bloomfield Avenue and Lemming Street after getting a devastating call.
“Me and my two aunts, we just collapsed to the ground. We just fell on the grass,” she said. “Some of the stuff that Christine and Isabelle were carrying, it was just scattered all over the street.”
Both Yan and Zhang were only children and immigrated to the United States from China to attend college. The recent graduates were planning to work together at an accounting firm, Hong said, adding that it was Yan’s goal to provide for her parents.
“That was always her dream. When she got her citizenship last year, that just made her so happy,” Hong said.
Isabelle’s sister-in-law, Emily Fu, said her brother and Isabelle were very much in love.
“Isabelle was someone that was loved by our entire family,” Fu said. “This Sunday they would’ve been celebrating their six-year anniversary of being together. But now we’re spending that time planning her funeral.”
Hong says they’re still in the dark about what caused the crash. It remains under investigation.
The families went to the site of the collision to set up a memorial. They say residents in the area came up to them and said they have started a petition to make a change.
“When we were standing at that intersection, people that lived in the neighborhood walked up to us and told us that that intersection was incredibly dangerous, that they had been asking the city for years to do something about it,” Fu said.
According to a city statement, there’s been two accidents in the past five years at that intersection. The city says it’s analyzing traffic patterns and lighting to determine if there are unsafe conditions and improvements can be made.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” Hong said. “I don’t want any other family to go through this again.”