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Fatal crash victims identified by Norwich police

By Claire Bessette

Publication: theday.com

Published February 28. 2013 10:00AM   Updated March 01. 2013 12:08AM

Norwich — Family members of some of the victims in Wednesday morning's deadly crash are dealing with more than just the shock and personal devastation of losing loved ones.

They need to navigate through the complex American system of hospitals, insurance and funeral homes.

All of the victims are Chinese and were coming home from work at Foxwoods Resort Casino in a car pool, said Vinny Zhao of Norwich, a relative of three of the crash victims, including his aunt and uncle killed in the crash.

Police Thursday released the identity of two men and one woman killed in the 8:23 a.m. single-car crash on Route 2.

Zhu Zhuo Rong, 65, his wife, Li Ying Xie, 52, and Zi Ming Zeng, 62, all of Norwich, were killed. Their addresses were not released by police.

Rong was pronounced dead at the scene. Xie and Zeng were transported to The William W. Backus Hospital but later succumbed to their injuries, police said.

Two survivors of the crash are currently being treated at Backus for serious injuries and were in critical condition Thursday morning, police Sgt. Michael Belair said.

Police have not identified the two survivors, but Zhao said one is his aunt, Cai Fang Zhu.

"They got off work and were on the way home," Zhao said. "We don't know what happened. My aunt hasn't woken up yet."

Belair said police are still investigating and have not determined who was driving the car. Police have not yet been able to speak to the surviving victims, he said.

Two witnesses told police the car was traveling westbound on Route 2 into Norwich from Preston when the car simply veered off the road and struck a large tree. The two witnesses said the car was not wavering or traveling at an excessive speed.

Belair said police are investigating whether the driver fell asleep or might have had a medical emergency.

John Wong, president of the Chinese and American Cultural Association based in Montville, said Zhao called him Wednesday after learning of the crash and asked for his assistance in handling funeral arrangements and dealing with insurance and the hospital.

On Thursday, Wong met with Zhao and two sons of Rong and Xie, who arrived from out of town to start funeral arrangements. Labenski Funeral Home on Boswell Avenue will be handling the arrangements, but Wong said it might not be until next week.

"They (the two sons) are not too familiar with arrangements," Wong said. "… I try my best to help out."

c.bessette@theday.com

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