Remembering Keon Ho (Chris) Lim

I want to take a moment to reflect on the loss of Chris Lim.

Remembering Keon Ho (Chris) Lim

Two years ago I nearly cracked my head. It was a blue-skied, freezing winter morning in Philadelphia as I zoomed my electric skateboard 26 miles per hour down a back utility road behind the Penn Park. My hands freezing, I shifted my right hand that gripped the electric skateboard remote into the right front pocket of my down jacket, not knowing that as I placed my hand into the opening, the remote trigger pressed back all the way, jolting the electric skateboard to a sudden stop and springing me off 10 feet forward and head first directly into the pavement.

As my forehead collided into the ground, I heard a loud crack and then my momentum forced me into 2 complete tumbles and a slide...

I was scared.

Had the helmet cracked, or had my skull cracked?

Luckily, it was the former.

At that moment, I promised myself that I would always wear a helmet no matter the cost, and that I would always encourage friends to wear one.

This morning my parents broke the news to me that Keon Ho (Chris) Lim, a South Korean Yale Law School student, died yesterday afternoon in a collision with a truck while bicycling in New Haven. After graduation with a computer science degree from Harvard in 2017, Chris worked for 2 years as a software engineer at Dropbox before entering Yale Law School in August 2019. The accident occurred when Chris had continued riding straight in a right-turn only lane and collided into the passenger door of a truck in the center lane - the lane to his left - that had made a right in a two-lane right turn road.

Chris's death shook me for a number of reasons. First, I also enjoy biking and often ride on the road (in the bike lane). Second, because my sister is a student at Yale I have visited New Haven numerous times and have walked past the exact intersection where the accident occurred; I even remember thinking during my first visit how odd it was that some traffic intersections turned green for pedestrians all at the same time, so students crossed the intersections diagonally. Third, Chris and I both studied computer science and worked as software engineers. Fourth, in college my main form of transportation besides walking was by bike and electric skateboard. Finally, Chris and I have 8 mutual friends on Facebook, we're both asian, and we even share the same name. Even though I have never met Chris before, I already feel as if he were an older brother.

Chris Lim's Facebook profile

For years, my dad has always reminded me not to ride in the bike lane, haunted by the countless bouquets he has seen placed on street intersection corners. I always refuted that I have no other choice because pedestrians get angry when I ride on the sidewalk, and in many places riding a bike in the sidewalk is illegal. My riding habits were dangerous: when I was in San Francisco I relied on my electrical scooter to commute 5 miles into the city and 5 miles back on most weekday nights, riding on dark, unevenly paved back industrial roads and through unmaintained, crime-ridden neighborhoods. At the time, riding the electric scooter at night would give me a rush of excitement and a feeling of adventure. Looking back now, I feel so stupid and so fortunate that nothing bad happened to me because as I learned from Chris's story, accidents can happen at any time, even to the best of us.

I feel very sorry for Chris's parents in Korea, to his friends, and his family. Chris did not deserve this and I hope that his story can save countless others.