COURTS & LEGAL

University of Utah announces $5M settlement for international student who was killed

Feb 22, 2023, 12:17 PM

FILE...

FILE

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah announced Tuesday it has reached a settlement and will pay $5 million to the parents of an international student who was killed last year.

Zhifan Dong was a first-year student from China who police say was killed by fellow student and boyfriend Haoyu Wang on Feb. 11, 2022, at a downtown Salt Lake hotel. Police say Wang injected his girlfriend with a fatal dose of drugs as part of a suicide pact.

Wang is currently incarcerated awaiting trial in the case. Wang was charged last year in 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony, in addition to two counts of drug possession with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony and a third-degree felony.

Dong’s parents criticized the university in July and said the school failed “to protect her when she needed it the most.” Before her death, Dong was endangered, missing and an alleged victim of domestic violence.

In July 2022, the university released the results of a review of how its Housing and Residential Education team, Utah Global office and public safety department handled the days and weeks leading up to Dong’s death.

“It is our hope that Zhifan will be remembered and that her memory will inspire others to help prevent intimate partner violence and save lives on campus and in all our communities. We hope she will inspire other victims to seek help and to leave their abusers,” Dong’s parents said in a statement.

A joint statement from the university and Dong’s parents said Tuesday the settlement — pending legislative approval — will honor her memory and resolve any “outstanding legal claims against the university.” The school will pay $5 million to the family and a memorial will be established on campus in Dong’s memory.

“Although her life was short, in these short 19 years, she lived a rich and fulfilling life,” Dong’s parents said. “She had lived, had loved, had been happy, and had been blessed. Her short life on earth was not in vain.”

The settlement will not include any state appropriations or funds from student tuition, a press release said.

“Our campus continues to mourn the death of Zhifan Dong,” University of Utah President Taylor Randall said. “Today’s settlement demonstrates our seriousness in honoring Zhifan Dong and reaffirming our commitment to the ongoing work of addressing all aspects of student safety.”

“Her murder is a reminder that intimate partner violence is a societal problem that transcends borders and cultures, and manifests in many ways,” Randall added. “No one should have to endure the loss of a child to violence and our university will remain diligent, continue to improve, and advance the health and well-being of our students.”

The settlement has been approved by Gov. Spencer Cox, and in the next few days the Utah Legislature is expected to vote on a joint resolution to approve it as well.

“The loss makes us very sad, leaving us only endless sadness and longing, and too many regrets. When we shed tears and choked up over the pictures of our daughter, her lovely smiling face and familiar voice replayed in our minds over and over again,” the Dong family statement said. “We know that she has never gone far, and she is in our hearts.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Courts & Legal

Naomi Peña Villasano poses with a sash of the Mexican and American flags. (Daisy Jasmin Estrada Bo...

Rebekah Riess

Judge rules Colorado student cannot wear a sash with Mexican and American flags

A federal judge has ruled for a Colorado school district after a student sued to wear a sash reflecting the Mexican and American flags at graduation Saturday.

3 days ago

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: In this photo illustration, the welcome screen for the OpenAI "ChatG...

Ramishah Maruf

Lawyer apologizes for fake court citations from ChatGPT

The meteoric rise of ChatGPT is shaking up multiple industries – including law. A lawyer for a man suing Avianca Airlines apologized in court after at least six cases as research for a brief were bogus, made up by ChatGPT.

3 days ago

NORTH PORT, FL - SEPTEMBER 16: Tara Petito (L) and Joe Petito react while the City of North Port Ch...

Lauren del Valle

Gabby Petito’s parents get ‘burn after reading’ letter from Brian Laundrie’s parents

Gabby Petito’s parents now have a copy of a letter Brian Laundrie’s mother wrote to her son, which included references to getting a shovel and burying a body.

6 days ago

FILE - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at a news conference in Dallas on June 22, 2017. Pa...

Paul J. Weber and Jake Bleiberg

Republican investigation finds that Texas Attorney General likely broke laws

A Republican-led investigation has accused Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of committing multiple crimes in office.

6 days ago

Lori Vallow Daybell talks with her lawyers before the jury's verdict is read at the Ada County Cour...

Eliza Pace

Lori Vallow Daybell to be sentenced for murders in July

Sentencing for Lori Vallow Daybell has been set for July 2023.

6 days ago

Dorothy Durrant, speaking to KSL TV about opening the  Lehi Farmers Market in June 2022. (KSL TV)...

Michael Houck

Lehi Farmers Market owner cited for 15 zoning violations

The woman hosting the Lehi Farmers Market has been cited for zoning regulations and for maintaining a nuisance.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Asian little girl playing arcade game on the computer machines at the shopping mall outlets...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Close up of an offset printing machine during production...

Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.

University of Utah announces $5M settlement for international student who was killed