Chilliwack school board trustee David Swankey congratulates Sardis secondary Grade 10 student Isabel Huang on her silver ribbon at the Fraser Valley Regional Science Fair on April 6, 2019. (Submitted)

Young Chilliwack student finds success after near-death experience

Struck while riding a bike in 2016, Isabel Huang wins silver in regional science fair

Isabel Huang was just 13 when she nearly died after being struck by a delivery van in downtown Chilliwack.

The Grade 8 student was riding her bike home from Chilliwack Middle School along Mary Street on Sept. 23, 2016. She stopped at the four-way stop, but the driver of a van did not, driving right over the girl.

“It was pretty scary,” said the now Grade 10 Sardis secondary student. “I never thought I would be in such a life-changing accident.”

Thirteen-year-old Isabel Huang in hospital in Abbotsford in 2016 after she suffered a compound fracture when she was hit by a van riding her bike home from Chilliwack Middle School. (Submitted)

She suffered a compound fracture, her leg broken in multiple places needing more than one surgery.

“We almost lost her,” mother Jennifer Chen said in a newspaper story in 2016. “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.”

But with Chen’s motherly pride and joy, and Huang’s gratitude and resilience, the two wanted to thank those in the community for rallying behind her and helping her reach success after near tragedy.

From weeks in a hospital bed suffering physical and mental pain, Huang now advocates for safe cycling, she is a prominent member of her school’s Be the Change committee, and her recent science fair project earned her multiple awards.

She took silver at the Fraser Valley Regional Science Fair. And her project “The Effects of Sugars on Hydroponically Grown Radish Sprouts” took home three additional awards that all came with cash prizes: first place for the BC Nature Club Award, the Rotary Club Award, and the BC Young Farmers Award.

Proud mom Chen credits support from the local community when she was seriously injured for her success.

“She received so much warm support from the local Chilliwack community during her recovery process, especially from her principal, teachers, and friends that made her recovery possible,” Chen said.

Sardis secondary Grade 10 student Isabel Huang receiving winning the BC Nature Club Award for her science fair project.

“Inspired by your newspaper’s report, ‘Struck down, but not out,’ Isabel was determined to become someone who would make the Chilliwack community proud.”

• READ MORE: Struck down, but not out – Chilliwack family fights to ensure student cyclists are safe on local roads

Huang says the accident really changed her outlook on life and how to strive for things knowing there is so much uncertainty around the corner.

“I think the whole experience made me more thankful of the life that I’m given and really motivated me to do things with my life and really go for the things that I want to accomplish because you never know what can happen or how things may happen in the future.”

She says facing a serious challenge has taught her how to overcome obstacles moving forward.

Support from the school and friends and family who came to see her in hospital helped.

“Those visits really helped my mindset and made me see things in a very positive way.”

But moving forward with success in academics isn’t her only goal. Huang is advocating for cycling safety in the district, but she’s also pushing for fairness when it comes to French immersion school busing rights.

Sardis secondary is the only high school with the French immersion program yet students who graduate from the Chilliwack Middle School French immersion program and who live on the north side have to pay $250 per rider to take the bus.

“A lot of people think it is unfair that we have to pay such a high price for busing,” Huang says. “It should be accesible for everyone. It’s putting parents under such financial strain.”

As for the future, she plans to go on to university after high school and study science.

• READ MORE: Student hopes new school board will reconsider bus fees for French immersion students


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Isabel Huang in hospital in Abbotsford in 2016 after she was hit by a van riding her bike home from Chilliwack Middle School. (Submitted)

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