Sunday, October 23, 2011

Xiao Yue Yue dies: Can everyone afford to be the good Samaritan?

Photo 1: Xiao Yue Yue

The two years old Chinese girl, Yue Yue, died two days ago in the hospital. The incident triggered a heated discussion across the world since a week ago. I saw the video that Jeremy posted on Facebook, and the French news reported it last Wednesday. The common reaction was: How such callousness could occur? Are those people heartless?

So what happened?
Here is the Chronology of the accident:
Photo 2: Chronology of the accident

On 13 Oct, around 4.30pm, in Guangdong Province, China, Mrs Wang picked up her son and daughter from school and sent them home.

Around 5.20pm, it was raining with grey sky. She went upstairs to collect her dried laundry. The eldest son went playing outside. Mr Wang runs a hardware shop downstair and didn't notice that his daughter went wandering on the street alone. When Mrs Wang discovered that her daughter was missing, she went looking for her, but at the wrong direction.

At 5.25pm, from the surveillance camera, we saw Yue Yue walking on the street. She was in an area full of wholesale shops, the side roads were burdened with merchandises. A van came towards Yue Yue and ran her over (Top left photo). The cruelest thing happened, the van paused for one second and actually moved forward and crashed the little girl again with the back rear tire, then drove away. The shop who had the surveillance camera was located just 200m away, but the shop owner claimed that he heard kid crying but thought that it was just a normal kid cry.

2 pedestrians and one cyclist (Top middle and top right) passed by and did not border to lay a hand. 40 seconds later, she got ran over again by another car (bottom left). 15 more people passed by and ignored her, including a mother with her daughter (bottom middle).

At 5.32pm, finally a rubbish collector stopped and yelled around if someone knew the little girl. She then tried to pick her up and pulled her aside (bottom right). At this moment Mrs Wang rushed over and took the girl.

Overall, a little girl lay down on the road, bleeding, crying, and within 7 minutes, non of the 18 people passing tried to help her, nor the people who ran the shops nearby came to rescue her.


Most of the messages on Facebook, forums and medias outside China condemned the lack of compassion and the apathy of the Chinese society. But I want to know what the Chinese think about this. I went to read on their forums and news and here are my findings:

1. They do not dare to help.

Here among the excuses:
A. I can't run the risk. If the police couldn't catch the real drivers, they might just accuse it on me. In this case, not only will I go to jail, I will put my family at risk (financial burden to compensate the family plus shame).
B. If I go to pick her up, who can guarantee that the parents won't accuse me of running her over? Even if I have no car, her parents could say that I was the one causing her to fall down resulting in her being ran over.
C. If I call the police with my cellphone, they will eventually know that I was the one calling, and the might accuse me being one of the drivers and send me to jail.
D. If I send her to hospital, the police will think that I'm the one who crashed her.
E. If I pick her up and unfortunately cause harm to her body, I could be sued.
Conclusion: Not everyone could afford to be the good Samaritan.

2. There is no Good Samaritan law in China.
Good Samaritan laws are laws or acts protecting those who choose to serve and tend to others who are injured or ill. They are intended to reduce bystanders' hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death. Unfortunately, this law doesn't exist in China. Majority of the Chinese who commented in forums mentioned cases where good Samaritan acts were performed, but the victims or police falsefully accused them resulting in court persuades and financial loses. Here are some examples:

A. Peng Yu Vs Xu ShouLan
Photo 3: Japanese media explaining the Peng Yu case as one of the causes that Chinese stop helping out.

Nov 2006, Nanjing.
There were three buses stopped at the same station. Madam Xu (65 years old) was rushing towards the third bus. According to Mr Peng, when he got out from the second bus, he saw Madam Xu laying down on the floor. He went to pick her up, together with another man, they called her children and helped sent her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with broken bones. She then accused Mr Peng for knocking her down when he got out of the bus and causing her fall. The court didn't have evidents that it was Mr Peng who knocked down Madam Xu. However, a person with common sense would explain the situation to Madam Xu's family at the scene and then went home. Since Mr Peng decided to send her to hospital, that could mean that he felt guilty. The court then ruled that Mr peng has to pay 40% of the medical expenses and court fees, a total of 45k Yuan (4.5k €), payable within 10 days. Even the Japanese media was using this case (see photo) to explain the apathy reactions towards Yue Yue's accident.

B. Xu YunHe Vs Wang XiuZhi
Oct 2009, TianJing.
At around noon, Mr Xu was driving on a 4-lanes road. Madam Wang (67 years old), illegally crossed the middle road block. According to Mr Xu, he saw Madam Wang fell down after crossing the road block, so he stopped and went to help her. She accused him for knocking her down and resulted in broken bones. In Jun 2011, the court could not prove that Mr Xu bumped into Madam Wang. They concluded that hypothetically, since his car was only 5m away from her, it could cause her to be nervous and eventually fall down. However, since Madam Wang was crossing the road illegally, she has to bear certain responsibility. With all these considerations, the court ruled that Mr Xu has to pay 40% of all the expenses, amounted to 100k Yuan (10k€).

C. Yin HongPin Vs Madam Shi
Aug 2011, JiangShu
Mr Yin was a bus driver. Around noon, he was driving on the highway and saw an old lady laying on the road. He stopped and went to help her. Since he couldn't just left the bus and the passengers there, he let someone who knew Madam Shi handled the situation, and drove away. Later, he was accused of hit and run. Madam Shi insisted that he struck her and should pay for her medical expenses. She and her family only dropped the case when they discovered that there was a surveillance camera in the bus. Many people called Mr Yin "The Lucky Peng Yu".

There are many more identical cases which are considered the principal factor that "cool down" the compassion of the society. In some cases, the "heroes" risked their life to rescue the victims and ended up hurting themselves and had to bear the gigantic medical cost or lost the ability to work. They get no help from the Chinese government and have to live in very poor conditions. Eventually, some Chinese comes out with this conclusion: Before helping others, we should first think about ourselves (Will I get sued? will I get hurt? Am I rich?...).

Current status:
The second driver got caught in the same evening. The first driver gave himself in three days later.

According to the first driver, he was looking for a shop in the area to collect some payments. It was dark and raining and he didn't see or hear the little girl. He felt that his car hit something so he drove on, but didn't realize he hit the little girl. He realized he might have hit someone after seeing the news on TV.

Note: There was a fake first driver who lied to the medias. He called Yue Yue's father and suggested to pay him 10k Yuan or 1k € to settle the case. When medias contacted him, he lied in his throat by giving false statements: that he has a quarrel with his girlfriend when driving so he was in bad mood, that he ran over the little girl the second time because if she dies, he would have to pay only 10k Yuan instead of 100k Yuan (estimated medical expenses). He said he was going to ran away with his family. But during the last call with a reporter, the real driver was already given himself in.

As for the 18 passing by, they will not be punished as there is no such laws of "Duty to rescue". This law does exist in France "non-assistance à personne en danger" (Non assistance to person in danger). When interviewed, two passing by said that they didn't see the little girl. The mother with a daughter said that she was scared and couldn't do much since she was with her daughter. A report said that she went to tell a security guard then just went away.

Photo 4: Madam Chen XianMei who rescued Xiao Yue Yue.

As for me, no matter what excuses / analysis these people said, a life is taken and there is no way back. I just hope that after all these soul searching caused by this case, people will just come to sense that a life is worth more than anything else. Please learn the lesson from Madam Chen XianMei who did not hesitate from helping, even though she is not rich.


  1. there is no Samaritan law in France.
    there is a "non-assistance à personne en danger" law it require us to call emergency service and protect the victim from further arm.
    if we give first aid treatment we can be sued if we give treatment disproportionate with the injuries (
    That's why every one should pass PSC1 (first aid training) to learn the right treatment.

  2. Also, people in charge of children, e.g. teachers or people in summer camps... are less and less allowed to give medicine to children for fear of being sued if something unexpected happens (allergy...).

    That's why you'll see once Aelig goes to school that if she has to take a treatment at noon and she takes lunch at school you'll have to come and give it to her yourself, nobody will accept to give it to her even given a written discharge.

    Also teachers don't use anything on hurt children, even on scratches, they are only allowed to apply some ice on the wound to dumb the pain (if the child condition requires it they will then call you and/or 911 of course).
    I can understand their worry about being sued in case of some bad decision, but I think they are taking it a bit too far.

    There are also some arguments and precise rules about when and where children are under the responsability of teachers or city workers or parents. For example between the moment the children leave the school bus until the moment they enter school itself, 15 meters away, they are supposed to be under the responsability of their parents as is clearly stated in the rules you'll have to sign at the beginning of the year.

    Of course we are not talking about leaving a child or a person bleeding to death in the middle of the street. But sadly in France too, people has sometime to think twice about the responsability they are taking before helping someone, even when the right thing to do is pretty clear.

  3. Where can I take the first aid training?

    Wow, I didn't know that I will have to go to school to give Aelig treatment if she needs it. I think people are overacting, but it is maybe necessary to protect oneself.

  4. Well if she is so sick that she needs medication more than twice a day, you'll probably keep her home anyway :) (leaving you with a whole other deal of problems to solve).

    Still it can be bothersome with antibiotics that has to be taken for some time even after the illness has passed and that requires to be taken with strict schedule.

  5. there are some association who which deliver first aid training (it only take two day)
    - pompier (not always)
    - croix-rouge
    - protection civile
    - SNSM
    - Association de Formations de Secourisme et de Sauvetage NAntaise

  6. I can't believe that this happened, if it wasn't for the camera the killer would not get caught.
    fiber optic camera