British Columbia

B.C. teen says he was subject of racial slur after being intentionally struck by car

Abbotsford teen Quan Michaels has mostly recovered from the scrapes and bruises he suffered when he was hit by a car last month in Langley, but he says he is still in shock from the racial slur hurled at him after he'd been knocked to the ground.

WARNING: This story contains offensive language

Quan Michaels, 16, is pictured where he was struck by a car in an incident near 68th avenue and 205th street in Langley, British Columbia on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Abbotsford teen Quan Michaels has mostly recovered from the scrapes and bruises he suffered when he was hit by a car last month in Langley, but he says he is still in shock from the racial slur hurled at him after he'd been knocked to the ground. 

The 16-year-old was on his longboard, riding down 68th Avenue with a friend on the afternoon of July 24 when he says a white Mercedes started following him.

Michaels said he signalled to indicate he would be moving aside to make way for the driver, but then he heard the vehicle picking up speed and getting closer.

Instead of passing, the driver hit him from behind, knocking him to the pavement. 

Then, while Michaels was on the ground bleeding, the driver allegedly opened his window and yelled, 'you f--king ch--k,' a derogatory term referencing his Asian heritage.

Quan Michaels in hospital a couple of days after being allegedly struck by a vehicle in Langley. (Roselee Kucharek)

Michaels' mother, Roselee Kucharek, is angered by the incident. 

"Just absurd to hit a kid and then to take off. It's obviously quite upsetting as a parent to know that something like that could happen to your own child," Kucharek said.

She says she had to take her son to hospital a couple of days after the crash because her son's wounds had become infected. 

"To this day, I don't understand. At the end of the day, everybody is a different coloured skin. Does that really matter, how you look? I mean it's what you do as a person, how you are as a human being," Kucharek said.

Langley RCMP confirm that officers attended the scene of the crash and a case was opened on July 24. They encourage anyone who experiences a racially motivated attack to report it.

Quan Michaels with his mother, Roselee Kucharek, and younger brother. (Roselee Kucharek)

The alleged attack on Michaels comes as the number of reported anti-Asian crimes has risen across Metro Vancouver since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Vancouver Police Department launched a new task force last month in response to the increase in reported hate crimes. Complaints dealing specifically with anti-Asian racism spiked from seven in 2019, to 66 in the first six months of the year. 

There have been reports of verbal assaults across the region, and a 92-year-old Asian man was knocked to the ground at an East Vancouver 7-Eleven in March. 

Kucharek said as a family, they've never experienced racism, and the reality is still sinking in. She said if Quan had been struck any harder, he could have been killed.

Michaels — who identifies as half Asian, half white — feels lucky he was able to walk away with minor injuries, but said this isn't an experience that will soon leave him. 

Quan Michaels shows some of the injuries he got from the crash. (Roselee Kucharek)

"At first it was all just shock," he said. 

"My message to that driver, honestly, grow up. It's 2020, we should be looking past faces at this point. It's the mind that matters, the heart," Michaels said.

He wants to see parents starting to teach their kids at an early age about racism and its impacts.

"Otherwise we're going to be stuck in the exact same place we were at in 1940. If we can get past that, I think we'd be a great society," Michaels said.

Now, having a younger brother, he worries about what he might face as he gets older.

"I'm honestly a little scared, because he honestly looks a little Asian, despite being half white."

As for his mother, she has one simple message for the driver that allegedly struck her son and chose to hurl a racist insult at him afterward.

"With everything happening in the community and the world we would just think people would have a little more compassion or a little bit more common sense," she said.