Li Zhen Wu (left) with her granddaughter Rossy Nguyen (center) and husband Song Li (right). Courtesy photo

SACO — City officials have confirmed the death of 73-year-old Li Zhen Wu, a Saco resident who was hit by a car on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the intersection of Spring and Bradley streets. Wu was rushed to Maine Medical Center in Portland following the accident and died Nov. 2 at 2:48 a.m.

The accident was not a hit and run. Police issued a press release on Monday stating a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee struck Wu while she was crossing at the Bradley Street crosswalk.

Police have identified 44- year-old Michael T Provenchar of Waterboro as the driver who hit and killed Wu.

Wu was known affectionately in Saco as “Ms. Li.” She and her husband Song Li would regularly walk around the city and collect recyclables for bottle redemption in a shopping cart. They were familiar faces in the neighborhood, and lived a few blocks away from the intersection where Wu was hit. According to Rossy Nguyen, Wu’s granddaughter, Wu was walking with her cart when she was struck.

Nguyen is reeling from the loss of relative who was one of her primary caregivers growing up.

“My grandmother and I had a pretty close relationship. She and my grandfather came to America when I was 4. She was the one to took care of me most while my mom worked,” said Nguyen. Li Zhen Wu and Song Li are originally from China. Wu and Song Li’s daughter, Nguyen’s mother, and Nguyen all live in Saco.


Young Rossy Nguyen with Li Zhen Wu and Song Li. Courtesy photo

Upon hearing about the accident, Nguyen drove to her mother’s home to pick her up before heading to the hospital. On her way there, she stopped at the crime scene to speak with police and saw the Jeep near her grandmother’s abandoned cart. When interviewed on Sunday, Nguyen said that the police “haven’t shared much” from the ongoing investigation into the crash. Nguyen learned the name of the driver who killed her grandmother on Monday morning, when police issued their release.

When asked for comment, Deputy Chief of Police Corey Huntress said that police met with Wu’s family on the night of the crash, though he didn’t specify which details they shared with them at that time. “Where the crash is under investigation and being reconstructed, further details of the investigation other than what was released to the family on the night of the crash are released once the reconstruction and investigation have been completed,” he added.

Pending the outcome of the police’s investigation, the York County District Attorney could bring criminal charges against Provenchar.

Saco resident Chelsea Hill has organized a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Wu’s memorial. The link to the GoFundMe can be found on the “Save Saco Neighborhoods” Facebook page. The page had raised over $4,500 by Sunday afternoon.

“As a community, so many are devastated at this news. We hope that whatever amount we are able to collect is a symbol of the kindness and love of strangers in our little corner of Maine,” wrote Hill on the GoFundMe page.

Incoming Mayor Jodi MacPhail said she had interacted with Wu on occasion and reacted to the news of her death, saying “she was a wonderful and kind woman.”


Nov 1. was not the first time that Wu been hit by a car in Saco. According to Nguyen, her grandmother was also struck during a hit and run in February 2022. The hit and run was corroborated by Chelsea Hill, who lives close to where the hit and run took place and was contacted by police to see if her doorbell — which has a camera record function — collected any footage of the incident. According to Nguyen, police never identified the person who hit Li Zhen Wu over a year ago.

Wu’s death comes as the city of Saco wrestles publicly with the issue of traffic safety. A proposed development that would have gone up close to where Wu was killed was recently nixed by the Saco Planning Board, partially over traffic concerns. Fears that Saco roads are already unsafe and the development would further exacerbate the issue was a consistent theme of public testimony against the project. Chelsea Hill was one of the loudest voices speaking out against the development based on traffic concerns.




Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: