Thirteen-year-old Isabel Huang has been in hospital in Abbotsford for two weeks after she was hit by a van riding her bike home from Chilliwack Middle School. (Submitted)

Struck down, but not out

Chilliwack family fights to ensure student cyclists are safe on local roads

This story originally appeared in the Oct. 6, 2016 edition of the Chilliwack Times

Thirteen-year-old Isabel Huang woke up on Sept. 23, had breakfast with her family and got ready for Friday in the third week of Grade 8. The enthusiastic Chilliwack Middle School (CMS) honours student hopped on her bike as so many young people do and headed off to class.

A clear day, it was on the way home riding along Spadina Avenue when a delivery van crashed into her at the four-way stop at Mary Street.

Left covered in blood on the pavement , Isabel suffered compound fractures, breaking six bones in her leg.

“We almost lost her,” mother Jennifer Chen told the Times this week.

“We sent her to school as a healthy kid and all of a sudden we see her covered with blood, bones sticking out of her leg. It was a very brutal scene.”

Two weeks later, Isabel has missed all that time at school and is still, as of this week, at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

She went through a seven-hour surgery, had two metal rods inserted in her leg and the doctor still wants to keep an eye on the 13-year-old’s recovery.

Jennifer said she and her husband, Isabel’s father, Luoyi Huang are left to balance both the sadness of the situation with the desire to remain positive, further still with an anger against the driver who they believe carelessly hit their girl.

Jennifer says the delivery driver denied wrongdoing and was not charged despite the fact they claim he made a right turn through a stop sign without stopping. Isabel was in no state to defend herself nor make a proper statement after such a serious injury.

Chilliwack RCMP confirmed a traffic collision between a cyclist and a motor vehicle at the intersection of Mary Street and Spadina Avenue at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 23.

Officers from the Chilliwack RCMP Traffic Services attended the scene, and police are conducting an investigation into the collision.

“Road safety in Chilliwack is a priority to police,” said Cpl. Mike Rail, spokesperson for the Chilliwack RCMP.

Isabel and her family are left with the trauma of the incident, and what could be weeks or months of rehabilitation.

“It’s a very challenging time for Isabel,” Jennifer said. “She has been quite strong and we tried to be positive around it.. .. Hopefully we are going to help Isabel and find some positive out of this.”

Regardless of blame, the family is focused on cycling infrastructure and how legal bike riders are treated on the streets, particularly schoolaged commuters.

“What happened to us can happen to any parents and any student out there,” Jennifer said. “There are so many students riding bikes to school these days. The locker rooms at the CMS alone are too small. They had to get more spaces for more student bike storage. How do we ensure our children’s safety as a community should they choose to bike to school?” Isabel has had incredible support from CMS as her principal Paula Gosal and classmates have all visited her at the hospital.

One element of coincidence to the story is that Isabel wrote a letter printed in the Sept. 1 Times complaining that she had ridden the bus for seven years. She said it was unfair that as a Grade 8 French Immersion student she was in the very small group of students left forced to pay bus fees waived for almost all others.

“My classmates and I joined French Immersion because we wanted to learn about the French language and their culture. How can we do that if parents struggle to even send us to school?” she wrote.

“We would just like to continue to use the bus as a way of safe transportation to get to school.”

Cycling front and centre City council and others are focused on increasing cycling safety in the city with the Cycle Vision Chilliwack event Oct. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.

Cycle Vision is part of the city’s Transportation Plan update project and the open house event is designed to get feedback on a comprehensive cycling plan for the city.

Resources for cycling safety The Chilliwack RCMP also point to a number of sources for cycling safety, including bit. ly/RCMPbikesafe.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack hospital offers thank-you message to community

Chilliwack health-care workers say they have heard everyone’s support throughout COVID-19 pandemic

UPDATE: Vehicle crash leaves 1,200 Chilliwack BC Hydro customers in the dark

Motor vehicle incident involving power pole could leave Fairfield Island residents in dark until 7:30 p.m.

Organ donation gives Fraser Valley RCMP officer a second chance at life

Cathleen Falebrinza celebrates Green Shirt Day after receiving a double lung transplant in 2016.

From tennis to basketball to pickleball all sports courts closed in Chilliwack

City of Chilliwack closed all facilities in town to encourage folks adhere to physical distancing

Evergreen Hall is being set up in Chilliwack to house the homeless in self isolation

Chilliwack space is one of five facilities secured in Fraser Health region for pandemic isolation

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Look at hospitalizations, not recovery stats for COVID-19, B.C. professor says

Cases in hospital are a definitive count of people who have the novel coronavirus

Most Read