An elderly woman in Fujian, southeast China, was knocked down by a motorcycle, then passed by 12 more vehicles without anyone stopping to help before being fatally struck by a truck, surveillance footage from Nov. 15 shows.
Video taken by a nearby surveillance camera shows that a three-wheeled motorcycle knocked down the elderly woman at 5:16 am on Nov. 15. After the motorcycle and its driver fled the scene, 12 more vehicles swerved around her, reported the state-run paper Beijing Times.
Five minutes later, the driver of an oncoming truck didn’t see the woman and ran her over. The driver, a 44-year-old man surnamed Fu, called police after he stopped and found he had crushed the old woman’s head, killing her.
Fu has been detained and his case is being handled.
Similar tragedies, in which victims of traffic accidents are abandoned on the road to die of their wounds, or killed by subsequent traffic, occur from time to time in China. On Oct. 20, a tricycle rider in Qingdao, Shandong Province, fled after knocking down a woman in her 90s. A second car hit the woman on the road, and she died in hospital.
Many people in mainland China are wary of helping strangers in need, with the phenomenon being a perennial source of online debate. Many are scared of being scammed by the people they are trying to help.
“It’s hard to explain the situation after helping someone,” one netizen said. “Unless there happens to be a surveillance camera recording the scene, you’d be bankrupted.”
Another internet user cited the 2006 case, of Peng Yu, a woman who helped a fallen elderly woman to the hospital, but was then accused of causing her fall. Following a lawsuit, a district court ruled in the old woman’s favor, saying that Peng would not have helped her if she wasn’t the one responsible for her fall. “Why did you help her if it wasn’t you who hit her?” the judge asked.
Peng Yu was made to pay the woman’s medical bills in a ruling that sent shocks throughout society.
A review by the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times found over 60 cases of good Samaritans being accused by their beneficiaries, or of people being hit on the road and not being helped following the Peng Yu case. Fifteen of the people involved in the incidents died.
Another reason that Chinese people dare not help strangers on the road is because there have been more and more staged crashes following the Peng Yu incident.
The state-run media Xinhua News Agency reported on Sept. 10 about a group of six people who had been extorting drivers on the road via staged crashes since July 2017. The gang faked 26 crashes and extorted 72,750 yuan ($10,474) by July this year.
One netizen said, “The first thing I told my children was not to help the elderly. I can’t afford to pay for it.” Another said, “the Nanjing judge [presiding over the Peng Yu case] was the straw that broke the back of the Chinese people’s morality.”
In 2013, a survey launched by the state-run China Youth Daily showed that among 140,000 participants, 84.9 percent confessed that they felt apprehensive about helping elderly strangers.
A mere 5.4 percent of people said they would help an elderly person who had fallen to the ground, while 55.6 percent said they would walk away.
The fear of liability has resulted in a situation where people want to help, but worry that their kindness might be taken advantage of.
In a 2015 article about a hit-and-run incident involving a Chinese woman with no driver’s license who hit a 2-year-old infant, current affairs commentator Jian Heng noted that the morality in China has declined tremendously as a result of seeing corrupt behavior tolerated by the Communist Party.
“There is a saying in China: When an elderly person falls to the ground, whether one chooses to help is a personal problem. But when people dare not help, it’s a social issue.”
Li Xinru contributed to this report