Sat, Sep 01, 2012 - Page 5 News List

US couple searches for long-lost Taiwanese hero

GUARDIAN ANGEL:The couple has gone from door to door with an old photograph, hoping to find the Taiwanese man who helped them after an accident

By Tung Chen-kuo and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Shih Ying-hua holds up a photo in Nantou County on Tuesday showing her, her husband, Huang Ming-tan, and Steve and Karen Ray 37 years ago.

Photo: Tung Chen-kuo, Taipei Times

“We could have died in that car accident in a foreign country if it wasn’t for the help of that warm-hearted man,” said Steve Ray, a retired US missionary who was in Taiwan to look for the person who saved him and his wife, Karen Ray, after a motorcycle crash near Nantou County’s Sun Moon Lake in 1975.

Thirty-seven years ago, the US couple traveled to the central part of the country for missionary service and to teach English. They were riding a motorcycle on a freeway near Sun Moon Lake when they had the accident. Steve Ray sustained multiple abrasions, while his wife suffered comminuted fractures in her right leg.

The injured couple was left stranded and helpless. It was then that Huang Ming-tan (黃明潭), a Thao Aborigine from Ita Thao Village (伊達邵), who was rushing his pregnant wife, Shih Ying-hua (石英花), to Puli Christian Hospital in Nantou County to give birth, found the couple and lent them a helping hand.

Huang pulled over his vehicle, and immediately reported the accident to local police — a move that helped Ray and his wife receive medical treatment in time, the Rays said.

While they were hospitalized, the Rays said they received attentive care from the staff of Puli Christian Hospital, as well as from the superintendent at the time, Bjarne Gislefoss, and his wife, Alfhild Gislefoss.

Grateful for Huang’s timely assistance, the couple said they came back to Taiwan about three years after the accident to personally thank Huang.

However, the couple and Huang gradually lost contact after the Rays became preoccupied with touring various Asian countries as missionaries. The couple, both in their 70s, said this was why they stopped at Sun Moon Lake during their trip to Taiwan this time to look for Huang and his wife.

Accompanied by a staffer from the hospital, Kung Fu-mei (龔富美), the couple last month went from door to door in Ita Thao Village, showing a picture taken more than 30 years ago of them with Huang and Shih to try and find Huang’s whereabouts.

After a long search, the couple were eventually told about a local specialty shop owned by Huang, but when they arrived at the shop, they found that Huang had died of liver disease 15 years earlier.

However, they did get to see Huang’s wife again.

“Forty years have gone by. I never thought that [the couple] would still remember [Huang],” Shih said after meeting the Rays.

Touched by their gratitude to Huang, Shih said: “If my husband is aware of this in heaven, he would be more than happy that he had made such good foreign friends.”

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