The Not So Good Samaritans

Yue Yue after being hit TWICE by two separate vehicles in Foshan

I’ve debated for days whether to bring up the story of Yue Yue, but it seems hard to write a blog about life in China and then to ignore this tragic story, just like the people who ignored her in her time of need.

Two year old Yue Yue was separated from her mother and hit by a passing minivan. The driver of the van just continued driving. That alone is a shocking story but there’s so much more to follow. Video footage of the accident shows that immediately following the accident, several passers by walked passed the injured, bleeding baby. They did not call an ambulance, they did not stop to assist her. They did not pull her out of the middle of the street where she could have been hit again by other passing vehicles. And then well, she was hit again by another passing vehicle.

People continued to pass by and ignored her as she lay in the street. Not just one or two people but 18 passers by. Eventually, one woman did stop and pulled Yue Yue to one side away from passing cars just before her distraught mother comes running having discovered her daughter had wondered off.

One of the reasons I’m late to post this is because just hearing the description of what happened made me feel quite sick inside and I couldn’t bring myself to view the video footage. Until today.

You have to wonder what went through the minds of those who passed by and did nothing. They clearly saw her because some of them deliberately walk around her. There have been many explanations offered. Some say people are afraid to stop and help because they worry they might be blamed for the accident and have to pay compensation. Others have been more critical, suggesting that the country is sick or broken, and people are just so self-centred and only care about their own well being.

It doesn’t paint a flattering image of the Chinese, although for those of you outside of China, I should mention that most people I know are truly shocked and outraged by this story in the same way they are abroad. But the fact remains, the mentality of many here is to not get involved to protect themselves at all costs. I really hope that mind set changes.

If you think that’s the end of it well there’s just one more twist. A man has been arrested for pretending to be one of the drivers who knocked down little Yue Yue in the hope of becoming famous. The man called Yue Yue’s father, claiming that he had ensured both sets of wheels went over his daughter, as he feared being burdened with high medical bills if she survived. He later admitted to police he did it to attract attention.

Yue Yue died 9 days after the accident. May she rest in peace.

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15 Responses to The Not So Good Samaritans

  1. Suey says:

    I understand the hardship some people may have in china, but a freaking phone call doesn’t cost much, right? This photo breaks my heart. May little Yue Yue rest in peace.

  2. Stimpy says:

    Ah, only two comments in and someone has already brought up Kitty Genovese. I think that the two are not comparible.

    In my opinion, people are much more likely not to step in if they believe that violence is involved. Which it clearly wasn’t in this instance.

    There are many examples of this sort of thing all over the world, including a couple people have brought up in New York and England (which I can’t find right now). So its not really a Chinese thing.

    What kind of person claims that they have run over a two year old to get famous?! What kind of fame did he think he would get? And even more shocking are the people that claim that the person who eventually stepped in was only doing it for the money or also to get famous.

    That kind of logic is so amazingly messed up there is no point trying to analyse it further.

    A very sad situation.

  3. Stimpy says:

    Incident in Sidcup- and quite similar (i.e.- no violence):

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/3700446.stm

  4. WoAi says:

    @Dingle – I did find that Kitty Genovese case and the “bystander effect” interesting, but I have to agree with Stimpy, this is completely different. People were practically stepping over the baby as she lay there dying. Nobody risked being killed by helping her out, whereas if someone is being murdered and you intervene there’s a very real chance you could get killed too.

    And I personally feel that stepping around a dying baby in the street is not at all the same as hearing screams and not calling the police.

    But it’s all the craziness that happened afterwards that really amazes me, like the guy calling the dead baby’s father claiming to be the driver. And the people who accused the one decent person who actually helped Yue Yue of doing it only for the money. Sick stuff.

    @Stimpy – Don’t worry, normal Apple posting will resume tomorrow.

  5. Stimpy says:

    Also, to all those claiming that people didn’t help out due to the famous 2007 Nanjing case, this:

    Later, when interviewed by a journalist, one of the passersby, a middle-aged man riding a scooter, said with an uncomfortable smile on his face: “That wasn’t my child. Why should I bother?”

  6. jseaford says:

    It’s a very sad story. I note that on Chinese news they’ve already drawn comparisons to other such incidents, as the Kitty Genovese case, to some how strangely rationalise this tragedy. Unfortunately, all this has seemed to do is form an impression to the outsider that the national self-image is either very fragile or bordering on the delusional. Nevertheless, I think Chinese bloggers have spoken the truth and show true signs of compassion and maturity. Good on them.

  7. Stimpy says:

    @jseaford:

    It’s easy to say you would do one thing while sat behind your computer, it’s another thing etc etc….

  8. T. says:

    I would note that in several incidents in China (i.e. women wrestling with men) I have neglected to get involved.

  9. Stimpy says:

    @T: Whatever you choose to pay and watch on a Saturday night is your business.

    Oh, you said ‘with men’, not ‘in mud’.

  10. Kim C says:

    Hi WoAi,

    Thanks for posting about little YueYue. It does seem hard to believe that situations like this happen anywhere, but they are getting a lot of press in China right now. I am not condoning the behavior one way or another. As the mom to 3 small kids, I don’t even want to think about this happening, but it does and people are strange and they do strange things.

    I have tried to blot my own experience out, as last Wednesday I witnessed first hand a similar situation. A window cleaner had fallen and he lay fatally injured at the new shopping area in Pudong. As I approached, I didn’t know what had happened but there was a fairly large group of people standing around, talking or taking photos as two expat ladies did their best to help the man. No one came to his aid, they simply stood and stared. I knew I could not help the injured man and I speak no Chinese, so I did what I could which was to yell and make a fuss to get someone to call an ambulance, get a doctor or someone medical from the hotel or shopping center. Medical help did eventually arrive, but by then it was too late, the poor man died before they arrived.

    There is a whole lot more I could write, but honestly just remembering my feelings of helplessness and frustration at not being able to do more and knowing that others around me could so easily have called for help and possibly saved this man’s life, just overwhelms me. It was one of the saddest events I have ever witnessed and I know it will stay with me forever.

    Don’t even get me started on the medical care that did eventually arrive or the mall/hotel security staff that just watched the events unfolding.

    Okay, please let’s get back to Caturday and Apple – Are Tommy and HuiHui trick or treating this weekend?

  11. WoAi says:

    @T – Surely women wrestling with women is the one not to get involved in!

    @Kim C – Yes, I heard about the incident at Kerry Parkside (unless two window cleaners fell to their death in Pudong last week). It is very sad and all of us living in China has from your description a very vivid picture of the situation with hundreds of people crowding round and just staring.

    If I was generous, I would say that this was slightly different as many people (perhaps wrongly) probably assumed someone else would call the ambulance. But of course, that doesn’t excuse not trying to help the man, although I am not sure much could have been done in this case.

    And it’s something I dread every day in China – becoming sick or injured. You really don’t want that anywhere but more so in China based on my limited experience with medical people in China.

    Sorry to bring everyone down with this post but I do feel we can all learn from this. Dingle said this can happen anywhere, and I am not entirely sure before today, that I would actually get involved, but I think that I will try my best to do so if the situation ever came up in the future. I hope everyone else here has the same thoughts.

  12. Swiss James says:

    I think the positive from the story is that people are saying that this is unacceptable- hopefully it’ll lead to a Good Samaritan law being passed in China.

    I guess that the Good Samaritan tale is the thing here though isn’t it? Growing up in a Christian society I heard that story so many times that it’s part of my moral compass- but I doubt if many Chinese kids are told an equivalent story.
    Human nature would naturally lead you to just look after your own- the selfish gene and all that.

  13. Bittermelon says:

    To continue on the “it can happen anywhere” theme, earlier this year in California a suicidal man drowned while policemen and firemen watched from the shore. No one went in to try to save him because they were not “trained in water rescue”. A bystander went in to retrieve the man’s body. Whether she was “trained in water rescue” was not known. Also a doctor friend of mine would never identify himself as a doctor whenever he flies, for fear of being called on if someone is sick. Something about liability insurance.

  14. WoAi says:

    @Swiss James – Not sure how likely a Good Samaritan law introduction in China is going to be but it would be welcomed. And yes, kids here are probably told by their parents the exact opposite : if you see someone in need, don’t get involved or you might end up being liable. Even in the US, where there is a Good Samaritan law, people get taken to court for trying to help:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-03-23-samaritan-accident_N.htm

    @Bittermelon – Thanks for that. It does put everything that happened in China in perspective.

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