Oakland hit-and-run ends dream of better life

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A year ago, Rui Hui Lin became a U.S. citizen in a ceremony on the South Side.

A week ago, he was in the office of an immigration attorney, seeking to bring his pregnant wife and 5-year-old daughter from China to join him in Pittsburgh, his adopted home.

Mr. Lin's step-by-step pursuit of the American dream ended in Oakland on Monday afternoon, when a pickup truck struck his bicycle as he was delivering food for a Chinese restaurant. Mr. Lin, 38, was pronounced dead at 8:40 p.m. at UPMC Presbyterian.

Police are searching for the driver of the vehicle that hit Mr. Lin. He is described as a white man with "salt and pepper hair," and he was driving an off-white Ford F-150 or F-250 with an extended truck bed, according to city police Officer Martin Link of the accident investigations unit.

The incident occurred near the corner of Meyran Avenue and Louisa Street. Witnesses told police that the driver stopped his truck, walked over to Mr. Lin and gave him a towel. He left after five minutes.

Mr. Lin worked as a chef at Golden Palace Buffet on Forbes Avenue in the heart of Oakland, routinely clocking 14-hour days at the restaurant to earn money for his family in China. He also occasionally made deliveries.

"You couldn't want anybody more motivated, more eager," Ruth Yee, a friend of Mr. Lin, said yesterday at Golden Palace. "He had a big heart."

Ms. Yee sat next to Mr. Lin's uncle, Chao Guan Yu, who teared up as he described his nephew's journey to America in Cantonese. His wife stood nearby, also in tears.

Mr. Lin emigrated from the city of Taishan in southeastern China in 2003, joining his uncle and aunt in Texas. They all came to Pittsburgh five years ago to work in Golden Palace, which was owned by another relative at the time.

Mr. Lin was often at the restaurant seven days a week, but he still found opportunities to study from a workbook with Chinese characters alongside English words, gradually improving his language skills.

He returned to China at least once a year to see his wife and daughter, Ms. Yee said.

Last year, Ms. Yee, 76, who was born in Pittsburgh and is active in the city's Chinese community, accompanied Mr. Lin to his citizenship ceremony. He snapped pictures throughout the event.

In November, he voted for the first time, with Ms. Yee standing at his side, helping translate the ballot.

He recently bought a home in Oakland that was big enough for his growing family.

"He loved Pittsburgh, he really did," Ms. Yee said. "He wanted to raise his family here."

She learned that Mr. Lin had been badly hurt in a traffic collision when she walked into Golden Palace Monday evening. He later died from blunt force trauma injuries, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.

Police are following several leads, including several postings on Craigslist from a man who describes himself as the driver of a white truck and who was threatening to hit bicyclists who get in his way.

Anyone with information is asked to call the city's accident investigations unit at 412-937-3051.

Jerome L. Sherman can be reached at jsherman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1183.


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