You always see stories about pedestrians coming to their fellow mans' aid when in need. Unfortunately, there have been two very depressing and very public stories in the past month or two here in China that make me question if anyone will be there for me if god-forbid I do have an accident and am hurt while riding.
Chinese toddler run over twice after being left on street
It begins last Thursday when a two-year-old girl totters into a narrow lane in a wholesale market in the thriving industrial city of Foshan in Guangdong Province and is hit by a small, white van. The driver pauses, and then pulls away, crushing the child for a second time under his rear wheels.
And then comes the very depressing and sad part:
One by one, no fewer than 18 passers-by are seen on closed circuit television ignoring the girl as she lies, clearly visible in the road, haemorrhaging into the gutter. Not a single one of them stops to help.
She later died in her hospital bed. Her name was Yue Yue.
Once is bad enough, but then three weeks later this happened: Chengdu woman leaps from bridge into oncoming traffic.
As the clip reveals, the jumper lands on the road in front of an orange car, which brakes, stalls for several seconds, and then merges into the left lane and motors off, leaving the woman prone in the middle of a busy four-lane highway.
Even when traffic nearly comes to a standstill, drivers continue to nonchalantly chug by in a shockingly passive scene reminiscent of zoo trams passing a dull exhibit. Fortunately, the cameraman (seemingly the only driver sympathetic to the woman's plight) dialed emergency number 110 to report the incident.
So the big question is, why aren't pedestrians willing to help those in public that are hurt and need aid? While reading these stories, one reason that did not come to my mind but is very compelling is the fear of legal repercussions. France24 has a very good article with social feedback about the incidents. In the article, a Beijing lawyer identifies a possible legal implication as a cause so many pedestrians did not stop to help. In the story, he is quoted as saying:
It’s hard to only accuse the onlookers in these stories. There are reasons behind this behaviour. In 2006, a court in the city of Gulou, in Nanjing, sentenced a man called Peng Yu to a 40,000-yuan fine. [The woman accused Peng Yu of beating her, while he maintains that all he did was help her get to the hospital after she fell to the ground]. I understand that people are concerned of falling into this kind of trap. I think these videos only show part of the story. I am sure there are many others who would spontaneously help a person in need.
So maybe that's it. There is just too much fear of possible legal repercussions if a pedestrian helps out and the situation turns ugly. This is a scary proposition for someone like me that is now riding to work every day and would be relying on help from pedestrians if I ever did have an emergency situation. There have been a few times I have needed emergency help (for example, when running down a purse thief) and people have always stepped in to assist me. But have I just been lucky so far? Is it because I'm a foreigner so Chinese people are more willing to help me? Maybe I have not yet been in the type of situation that pedestrians don't like to assist with? I have no idea.
To finish, the most unbelievable quote comes directly from the driver himself that hit Yue Yue the baby.
If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan ($3,125). But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands yuan.
I think this post deserves another sad face :.(