Funds set up to help victims’ families
It’s one of those times when giving money might be the most welcome gesture of all.
Flowers sprouting from nearly two-dozen vases adorn the entrance to Little Ollie’s Chinese Restaurant in Aspen. Blooms cover three tables and the ledge of a half-wall that separates the entrance from the dining area. Cards bearing condolences from scores of well-wishers are propped beneath the flowers and between the vases.
The restaurant is half full with customers, and half empty with the loss Monday of two employees in a car accident on Highway 82.
Little Ollie’s employee Yang Chun said everyone at the restaurant appreciates the sentiments reflected by the cards and the flowers, but worries that the families of Sing Guo Wu and Yiao Jun Zhang may not ever see them.
“It would be more helpful for the families if people give money,” said Yang, “but anyway we thank everyone for the flowers.”
Accounts for the victims’ families were set up yesterday at Alpine Bank and Vectra Bank in Aspen.
Neither family lives here. Wu’s family lives in New York City, Zhang’s in China.
Neither family is wealthy.
Wu’s mother is too sick to work. In fact, she’s so ill she couldn’t travel to Aspen with her husband yesterday. Sing, in fact, provided a major source of income for the Wu family.
Five of his relatives arrived in Aspen yesterday, and they probably paid about $5,000 to get here. A reservation agent at United Airlines said Thursday that the round-trip bereavement fare between New York and Aspen is $929.
“Sing took care of his family a lot, because he was the oldest son,” said longtime friend Michael Ye. Along with regularly sending money back East to support his parents and younger siblings, Wu was consulted on all the family decisions.
“His parents spoke to him about everything,” said Ye, who considered Wu his best friend. “Sing made all the big decisions. He’s the backbone of the family.”
Zhang, 35, leaves behind a wife and a 5-year-old child in China. His mother passed away about two years ago and his father is 70.
Mrs. Zhang’s efforts to come here have been slowed by the United States and Chinese governments, Yang said, and she is not expected until the middle of next week. “You can imagine how hard it is for her to come all the way from China,” he said.
Anyone wanting to help out the families can stop in at Alpine or Vectra banks.
“They can come in and see any of the tellers and say they want to make a donation for the families of the victims from Little Ollie’s,” said Alpine Bank’s Erlinda Morehead. She said the fund will go to both families.
There is also an account set up at Vectra Bank for the Zhang family. A spokeswoman from the bank said people can drop off or send a check made out to the Zhang Yiao Jun Memorial. Donations should be addressed: Zhang Yiao Jun Memorial, care of Vectra Bank of Colorado, 534 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, CO 81611, Attn.: Terrasa Burkett.
Yang said no firm plans have been set for a memorial. The Wu family is still debating whether it should be held here or in New York. Mrs. Zhang will make her decision after she arrives.
The Aspen Community Church on Bleeker Street has offered to help set memorials up if needed.
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