When police told Joseph Wirija his wife was hit by a car and killed the day after Thanksgiving by a motorist who passed a stop sign in their quiet Pasadena neighborhood, the first thing he asked was if she was in pain.
They assured him that the death of 33-year-old Yang Yang Liu was instantaneous.
The second question he asked was, “Where is the driver? They refused to provide information, he said.
“I should have asked a lot more questions at this point, but I just missed the point,” Wirija, 35, said on Monday.
At around 11 am, Liu left for jogging on a route she had taken several times before. It usually took her about half an hour to finish it, so Wirija texted her when she didn’t come back by noon. About two hours later, he tried to call.
He called 20 to 30 times until a police officer picked up at around 5 p.m. and told him he would break the news in person. Wirija had a cold sweat and started to shake, already bracing for the worst.
“It was a roller coaster of emotion, from fear to maybe a little bit of hope to just discouragement and a broken heart,” he said.
When the authorities arrived around 6 or 7 p.m., he said, he hardened himself as best he could.
It appears that the driver of a 20-year-old BMW 328i collided with Liu at around 11:19 a.m. at the intersection of Allen Avenue and San Pasqual Street after failing to stop at a traffic sign. ‘stop, said Lt. Anthony Russo of the Pasadena Police Department. .
Police believe the driver, whose name has not been released, was driving above the 30 mph speed limit.
Paramedics were summoned, but Liu died of a severe head injury at the scene, Russo said. The intersection is about 1.5 km from the house shared by Wirija, Liu and their two dogs.
The driver was neither arrested nor cited. Russo said police were investigating whether there had been criminal negligence, which would prompt the case to be referred to the district attorney, he said.
Wirija expressed his frustration. He wants more information on the driver and believes the investigation could be completed sooner than the three to six months police told him it could take.
“We just want no other person to go through what we have to go through,” he said.
An investigation into fatal collisions can take weeks, months, sometimes more than a year, Russo said.
“You sure don’t ever want to tell someone too soon and then they look for an answer and… you don’t have it,” Russo said, adding that three to six months is well within the statute of limitations on any charges. that could be deposited.
Meanwhile, Wirija tries to cope with the void left by his wife’s death.
“It was too short a marriage,” Wirija said of the five-year union. “She was definitely my soul mate; she was everything to me.
In the past three days, he said, he could barely eat and slept about five hours in total. He said he was considering suicide and had to throw in sleeping pills. Her mother has come from Singapore “to make sure I don’t do anything too stupid”, and friends come by every few hours. Her in-laws also came from the Bay Area, where Liu grew up.
“She was a very strong and bright woman, a wonderful wife and daughter,” said Wirija, chief financial officer at a financial technology company.
Liu quit an investment banking job to pursue his dream of working in the media industry and most recently worked as a senior executive with Amazon Studios’ content strategy team, Wirija said.
Since 2007, the city of Pasadena has received eight requests for review of road safety issues in the area where Liu died, said Lisa Derderian, a city spokesperson.
There have been “general safety concerns”, as well as demands for stop signs, pedestrian crossings and speed bumps, and a series of actions have been taken to address them, he said. she stated in an email.
Among other things, in 2009, the City installed a sign warning motorists to stop in front of Allen and installed a pedestrian crossing on the four branches of the intersection. A year later, stencils warning drivers of the upcoming stop were added and the size of the stop signs was increased.
It appears that speeding tickets, collisions and the number of pedestrians affected are increasing in Pasadena, as well as in the neighboring towns of Burbank and Glendale, Russo said. There have been nine fatal collisions in Pasadena this year, including seven involving pedestrians, the latter of which he called “a large number.”
In the past five years, there have been two vehicle-to-vehicle crashes at the intersection of Allen and San Pasqual – in 2017 and 2020 – and none resulting in serious injuries.
Russo said the number of collisions during that time was not significant compared to other intersections, although he didn’t rule it out as a problem.
This recent collision, he believes, was preventable.
“If the speeds had been slower and the driver of the vehicle had paid attention to the signage and had stopped for the sign, this collision would not have happened,” he said.