COPPERAS COVE — Shan “Sam” Chao lost his 36-year-old bride of five months — Fengling “Vivian” Wu — on May 28 when her car was T-boned by an 18-wheeler on U.S. Highway 183 near Briggs in northern Burnet County.

She died instantly, and an entire family’s world was irrevocably shattered. Chao said he lost his soulmate, and Wu’s 9-year-old son was critically injured in the accident and remains hospitalized in intensive care.

Her father, who had just arrived from Shanghai, waited at the airport for a daughter he’d never hug again. Her mother was soon to follow to America.

Chao and Wu had just bought a house so Wu’s family could live with them, said Chao, who owns Hot Wok restaurant in Copperas Cove. But according to local residents of Burnet County, 12 people have been killed in recent years on what they say is a poorly engineered stretch of highway, Chao said.

In fact, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, another fatality occurred three days after Wu’s, on May 31, killing 34-year-old Lampasas resident Tammy Lee Mercado, a mother of twin 7-year-old sons. Each woman was driving a 2013 Nissan, both had young children, and the accidents occurred six miles apart.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Harpin Myers said Wu attempted to make a left turn heading south on U.S. 183 at Loop 308 when she failed to yield.

However, Chao believes there were inconsistencies with the report and evidence. He said his attorney is in the process of filing a negligent lawsuit against the trucking company.

“The best way to memorialize my wife is to clear her name,” Chao said. “She wasn’t a driver who ran a stop sign. I want the truth and I want people to know about it.”

The couple met in September and married in January. Chao said he ran out of time to completely express his love for Wu.

“I want to go with her,” he said. “I can’t live like this. It’s too hard without her.”

Contact Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro at or 254-501-7476

A journalist by trade, Corinne has written for both the military and civilian populations. She has a Master's in Writing and Bachelor's in English. She is also a military spouse and her family is currently stationed at Fort Hood.

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