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    Tsinghua Alumni Association of Georgia Forum Index
       Xiaodong Memorial Forum
         The details of the accident

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    Poster Thread
    Posted on: 2005/9/30 12:04
    New User
    Joined: 2005/9/28
    Posts: 3
    The details of the accident
    I am hoping TAAG will try to find out what really happened and what caused the death of both Xiaodong and his mother. It will give some closure to the family and friends of the deceased to learn what really transpired that Friday.
    Posted on: 2005/10/5 17:37
    New User
    Joined: 2005/10/5
    Posts: 2
    Re: The details of the accident
    My girlfriend and I happened to be in the Lee Vining area on Thursday, September 29th. We saw the flyer posted at the Mobil Gas Mart located at the intersection of Hwy 395 and 120 and were keeping our eyes open for any signs of the car.

    Unfortunately, we learned that evening that the vehicle had been found just 4 or 5 miles up highway 120 and that Mr. Yuan and Ms. Wang had not survived.

    While I live in Southern California, I visit that area five or more times a year and have for the past 35 years. I am intimately familiar with the roads there, especially Tioga Pass Road, which I have traversed hundreds of times in my life.

    On Friday, we watched as we descended the mountain for evidence of the site and found that it was made easy to recognize due to the flourescent orange paint used by the investigators to mark crucial areas and evidence.

    I am not an investigator so I will only state what I saw and not make any conclusions as to the cause of the accident. Let it be said that Tioga Pass Road is a very dangerous place, there are very few guardrails and steep drops on a very twisty road. The road is also very steep, I believe it's a 9% grade which is very taxing on the brakes if the driver doesn't use lower gears.

    The accident occured between 2 and 3 miles west of the Poole Power Plant turn-off. The turn-off marks the end of the steepest part of the road. Where the car went off it was a sweeping, downhill left hand turn that would normally be taken at between 35 and 45 miles per hour. The road runs along the north wall of the canyon, so in left turns centrifugal force is pulling you to the outside while right turns would be to the inside. There is a large dirt turn-off to the outside of the turn. I don't recall how far into the turn the car was but at some point the brakes were applied and a left tire locked up, leaving a straight, black skidmark about 10 feet long. There was a skidmark from the right side as well, but it was very light. The skidmarks continued in a straight line (as marked by the investigators orange paint and indicated by the still visible troughs gouged by the tires in the rocky dirt that made up the turn-off) across the dirt turn-off (appx. 40 to 60 feet). At that point, the canyon wall drops off at a pretty steep angle. The location where the car went off of the embankment is strewn with large granite boulders with an occaisional Aspen tree.

    This is a picture of the canyon, the area of the accident would be towards the very lower right corner and the vehicle would have been traveling east (downhill) prior to the accident. This canyon is also used in the beginning of the current TV commercial for the BMW X5 that starts out "Think of the mountains you want to climb...".

    There was very little evidence of what happened after the car went off the embankment. We could see where it had been pulled up by a tow truck but couldn't really identify where it had finally come to rest. The location where the car was pulled up was probably 100 or so feet from the point where it went off the embankment.

    Again, I am not an investigator, this is just what we saw.

    My girlfriend and I would like to extend our condolences to the family. We stood at the site and said a prayer for both the victims and those who will miss them.
    Posted on: 2005/10/6 13:21
    New User
    Joined: 2005/10/6
    Posts: 1
    Re: The details of the accident
    This is a good thread. I've been thinking about the cause of the accident since it was reported. One thought that kept popping up was that it might be related to the glare from the rising Sun because the time of the accident was early morning. We all had times during sunrise or sunset when we got totally blind sighted by the Sun glare directly into our eyes.

    The pictures took by Yuan's Mom TAGG just published seem to confirm this theory. She took a few pictures from 7:00 till 7:30 am, moments before the accident. From the pictures, you can see the Sun was shining right through the windshield. Yuan was not wearing sun glasses. The last picture showed him driving with the strong Sun shining through the windshield covered him below just below his nose. I would argue that when he made that left turn, he was directly looking into the Sun and blinded him. He was trying to stop the car but couldn't do it in time.

    This is still a theory but with the pictures it seems to make sense.
    Posted on: 2005/10/6 20:22
    New User
    Joined: 2005/10/5
    Posts: 2
    Re: The details of the accident
    It should also be noted that the entire pass is prone to rock slides. There are always rocks on the road early in the morning and there are daily plowing runs to clear the rocks from the roadway. The rocks are usually small but are sometimes as large as a bowling ball, or larger. As I said, there are rocks on the roadway EVERY morning, it is not an isolated event but a daily one.

    I have had to swerve to avoid hitting them on numerous occaisions but I'm usually going up the hill in the morning and not down which limits my speed significantly.
    Posted on: 2005/10/13 12:27
    New User
    Joined: 2005/9/28
    Posts: 3
    Re: The details of the accident
    Thanks a lot for sharing about the road condition and what you saw on the site. I guess the road was a kind of wet and slick in the morning. It was hard to break without using low gear and ABS(optional on Taurus) during down hill.
    Posted on: 2005/11/13 15:48
    Joined: 2005/1/22
    Posts: 159
    Re: The details of the accident
    The vehicle was not equipped with ABS. TAAG issued a statement regarding some details of the accident at the news update site, also www.yuanxiaodong.com is now active.



    txu wrote:
    Thanks a lot for sharing about the road condition and what you saw on the site. I guess the road was a kind of wet and slick in the morning. It was hard to break without using low gear and ABS(optional on Taurus) during down hill.
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