Family, friends and community members mourned a young father of two killed in a road rage attack as he helped his employee during a minor fender bender that turned tragic.
Loved ones gathered Saturday for the funeral of 28-year-old Wei Lin, who died after being punched May 24 in Philadelphia’s Juniata neighborhood while serving as a translator for one of his restaurant’s drivers, who had gotten into a minor crash with another vehicle.
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“I still can’t believe this happened to my life,” his wife, who wished only to be identified as Ms. Zhang, said.
Philadelphia police said that Lin’s driver, who doesn’t speak English, was involved in a crash and called Lin to come translate. While Lin and his employee were discussing the incident, Jose Figueroa, who was a passenger in the other vehicle, punched Lin, police said.
Lin fell unconscious to the ground and died three days later at Temple University Hospital.
“All the guy did is talk about his future. He worried about his family and stuff like that, and for something like this to happen is just very unfortunate,” said Will Molina, one of Lin’s former employees. “You work for the future and you don’t even get to see your kids grow up, and you leave your wife behind.”
Both Molina and Lin’s wife remembered Lin as a kind soul who would go out of his way to help others.
Police said the incident isn’t being investigated as a hate crime because the alleged attacker did not utter any racial slurs before punching Lin, but the ordeal still has other Asians in the community worried.
Esther Castillo, the program manager for the Philadelphia Chinese Development Corporation, said the killing has raised fear among the Asians in light of a nationwide rise in anti-Asian attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This attack just kind of confirms the one thing that they feel most scared of, which is to be attacked for no reason,” Castillo said.
Pearl Huynh said it feels like racial differences and the pandemic are pitting “neighbor against neighbor.” She urged unity instead of division.
“We are the same. Our blood is red, even though the skin color is different,” Huynh said.
Figueroa has been charged with manslaughter and related offenses in Lin’s death. Lin’s wife said she hopes no one has to endure the pain that her family has experienced.
“I hope my husband can have justice. I don’t want this to ever happen again,” Ms. Zhang said.