UC Berkeley junior Ruoyang Wang dies in car accident at age 20

ruoyangwang

Grieving family members and friends gathered Wednesday evening at a memorial service to remember Ruoyang Wang, a UC Berkeley junior.

Wang died after sustaining blunt force injuries in a car accident that occurred on Interstate 5, not too far from Bakersfield. He was a passenger in the car and died on the scene at 2:58 p.m. on Oct. 28. Wang would have turned 21 three days later.

After the accident, Wang’s father, mother and two aunts flew in from China and also attended the memorial service in the Ida Sproul Room at International House, along with 50 community members. The service was primarily in Mandarin Chinese.

Pausing to wipe away tears, Wang’s father, Jianzheng Wang, described how he had been looking forward to traveling here for his son’s graduation but had never expected that Wang’s funeral would be the cause of his visit.

Jianzheng Wang said he has not yet notified Wang’s grandparents of the death, not knowing how to break the news.

Wang had just transferred from UC San Diego to UC Berkeley this semester. During his brief time here, he studied genetics and plant biology in the College of Natural Resources. As an international student from Beijing, Wang found a community within the Berkeley Chinese Students and Scholars Association.

The dean of the College of Natural Resources, J. Keith Gilless, and the director of UC Berkeley’s international office, Ivor Emmanuel, also spoke at the service.

Gilless presented the family with a certificate of their son’s work.

“A piece of paper is just a piece of paper,” he said. “But I hope that in giving this to you, you will see it as a symbol of our shared sympathy and grief.”

In small groups, mourners made their way to the front of the room, where they bowed three times to a portrait of Wang and then once to his family. The memorial service concluded with a candle-lighting ceremony.

Wang’s friends said they will cherish the best memories they had together. Ziqun Guo, one of Wang’s close friends who spoke at the service, said Wang took an active role in his activities, often proposing new ideas and lending help whenever needed.

Dori Contreras, a graduate student instructor in Wang’s plant ecology class, described Wang as “a really sweet guy who always participated and sat up front.”

Fellow club members in the Chinese student group described Wang as an outgoing person who enjoyed spicy food.

When asked what he will remember about his friend and fellow club member, Christopher Wang immediately said, “His smile.”

“When we lose an international student, it’s like losing one of our family members,” Emmanuel said. “It’s a deep loss that we all feel.”

Contact Kimberly Veklerov at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @KVeklerov. News editor Daphne Chen translated for this report.