On Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, Cross Cultural Centers coordinator Lilianne Tang was severely injured in a car crash that nearly killed her.
While crossing the street in downtown San Luis Obispo, Tang was suddenly struck by a speeding car and forced underneath the vehicle.
“I couldn’t breathe and was tasting blood,” Tang said of the accident. “The heat of the engine was burning my face and my body.”
Witnesses and emergency services were able to free her from underneath the vehicle quickly. Tang was airlifted to Fresno for emergency surgery.
Tang remained in Fresno for more than six weeks to undergo two more surgeries. Her mother and sister, who took a leave of absence from UC Riverside for the quarter, stayed in Fresno throughout that time to provide support.
After going through rehab in Los Angeles, Tang returned to her job at Cal Poly in July 2019.
With limited mobility and constant pain, Tang said her return to campus was an endeavor that required patience and ambition.
“It was really difficult at first,” Tang said. “I don’t have a lot of strength and energy, and I have to put more weight through my legs as opposed to putting my weight on crutches.”
Tang explained that, although the Cal Poly campus is not well-suited for those in the disabled community, she feels motivated to make the best of her situation and use those challenges as a means of exercise.
The stairs and long walks between buildings provide an opportunity to make progress, as she said she is continuously working to rebuild strength throughout her body.
Although much of her recovery has been independent, Tang attributed her success to the incredible support system she developed both within and outside the Cal Poly community.
“Support came in so many different forms from Cal Poly, whether it was sending me messages, donating (vacation) hours, sending me cards, sending me care packages — all of those things went such a long way,” Tang said.
After five surgeries and nearly a year’s worth of recovery efforts, Tang said she is looking forward to executing her goals and visions for Cal Poly’s Cross Cultural Center and said she is grateful for those that helped along the way.
“For the people who were there at my accident — I don’t know who they are, I don’t know their faces — but they all, I think, saved my life by making that decision to come out and help, and I wish I knew those people to thank them personally,” Tang said. “I feel like I’m alive because of them.”