Taiwanese man, toddler son stuck in California shelter after wife was killed in car crash

Taiwanese man, toddler son stuck in California shelter after wife was killed in car crash
Austin Cheng
Carl Samson
July 13, 2023
A Taiwanese man and his young son are reportedly stranded in a homeless shelter in Sunnyvale, California, following his wife’s death in a car crash last year.
An American journey: Austin Cheng, 35, and his late wife, Maple, moved to the U.S. from Taiwan several years ago in search of better opportunities. Their son William, now aged 3, was born in the U.S.
The family moved back to Taiwan during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maple and William then returned last year while Austin planned to follow after saving enough money.
The crash and its aftermath: The family’s plight started after Maple was killed in a car crash near San Bernardino in November 2022. William, who was aged 2 at the time, survived the incident but sustained severe injuries.
The crash forced Austin to return to the U.S. immediately. The expenses quickly drained his funds. As a result, he and William — who was still recovering from the crash — ended up living in a car for about two weeks. A friend in the Bay Area then temporarily took them in before they moved to the Home First shelter in Sunnyvale.
The shelter’s resources, however, are limited. Austin has yet to arrange for Maple’s funeral, and her ashes are still in his luggage.
“I miss my wife dearly,” Austin told NBC Bay Area. “I have not yet taken care of funeral arrangements for my wife because of the expensive costs.”
William Cheng, now 3, wound up in a coma after the crash. via Austin Cheng
“Wave of depression”: The series of unfortunate events led Austin to contemplate ending his life. Apart from losing his wife, the image of William in a coma attached to multiple medical devices sent him spiraling into depression.
“This series of tragic events swept Austin under a wave of depression,” Aubri Lee, who organized a GoFundMe campaign to help the family, wrote. “He had contemplated suicide, and a nurse suggested that he undergo an examination. So he received behavior health counseling from the same hospital.”
Plans for the future: Austin is currently unable to look for a job because no one else can take care of William. Once help becomes available, he plans to work, arrange a funeral for Maple and pay their debts.
Lee noted that the minimum funeral cost is “well over $3,000,” while Austin has to pay around $100,000 for his son’s medical bills and his mental health treatment.
As of this writing, the campaign has raised over $42,000 since being started on Friday.

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