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Chinese overseas

Chinese couple’s trip to see son in New York ends in hospital after American Airlines flight hit by snowstorm

Elderly pair hit by pickup truck while stretching their legs at rest stop during replacement bus journey

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 March, 2018, 3:33pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 March, 2018, 3:33pm

An elderly Chinese couple are in a serious but stable condition in hospital in the United States after being hit by a pickup truck during a weather-disrupted journey to visit their son in New York.

The incident happened about 11pm on Friday at a service area in Aberdeen, Maryland, while the charter bus they were on was making a rest stop, local police said.

The couple, both of whom are in their 70s and who asked to be identified only by their surnames Liu and Bo, were on an American Airlines flight to New York, but the aircraft had to be diverted to Baltimore in Maryland because of a severe snowstorm. A bus was then provided to take the passengers to their destination.

The accident happened in “very low light conditions when they were crossing a non-crosswalk area”, Aberdeen police spokesman Will Reiber told the South China Morning Post on Thursday.

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The couple, neither of whom speaks English, suffered head traumas and were taken to hospital, where they were in a serious but stable condition, he said.

Reiber did not say where in China the couple were from.

“It was very catastrophic in the area that day. There were heavy winds and a massive power outage throughout the northeast,” he said, adding that the bad weather had paralysed traffic in the region.

Stefani Kuo, who was also travelling on the bus, described the journey as a “disaster” and accused American Airlines of “failing to take care of its passengers”.

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The 22-year-old, who hails from Hong Kong and describes herself as a writer and actor, wrote in a blog post on Saturday that the bus, which did not have a toilet, travelled 48km (30 miles) in 10 hours without making any stops.

“It was very chaotic, and there was no communication whatsoever,” Kuo said. “After the accident, many of us tried to call [American Airlines] but they didn’t pick up the phone.”

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The airline later apologised for the inconvenience caused as a result of the bad weather, and said it had sent people to help Liu and Bo get through their ordeal.

“We know it’s tough to not be from this country and experience something like this so we are making sure they have the resources to get through it,” airline spokeswoman Michelle Mohr told the Post.

At least nine deaths have been attributed to the blizzards that have swept across the northeastern United States over the past week, according to official reports.