I don’t often copy Honorary Unsubscribe write-ups to the True site: there’s an archive for those. But I suspect readers are going to want to talk about this one, from True’s 23 October 2011 issue:
I couldn’t bear to watch the security camera footage: I saw enough on a clip shown on Chinese TV, and I grabbed a non-gory screencap from it (posted below).
This entry is likely to make women (and men with hearts at least half as soft as mine) to tear up.
This Week’s Honorary Unsubscribe goes to: Wang Yue
It’s tough to watch the security camera footage, but the whole thing was caught on tape. Wang — a toddler — had wandered away from her parents and into a commercial area of Foshan, in Guangdong, China. A delivery van runs her over. The driver immediately stops, looks around, and — without getting out of his van — drives away …running over the girl again with his back wheels. Witnesses saw it, but no one does a thing. Then a larger truck comes by and runs her over again. Amazingly, the girl is still alive, but 18 people in view of the security camera walk by, some looking at her, and no one does a thing to help, not even calling for an ambulance. And surely there are more, out of view of the camera. Finally, Chen Xianmei, 57, a trash scavenger, sees the girl and moves in to help, carrying the tiny broken body to the girl’s parents. Wang was hospitalized in critical condition. Police were able to find both drivers and arrest them, but the girl’s parents say the drivers are not at fault: they themselves are, for not keeping better track of their child.
But when the video was shown on Chinese television (it then went viral online), shame and guilt gripped China. “We couldn’t imagine that moral values have declined so much,” said Zhu Yongping, a Guangzhou lawyer who has attended meetings on the implications of the case. “We should look into the ugliness in ourselves with a dagger of conscience and bite the soul-searching bullet,” says Wang Yang, a government official in Guangdong. In the past, citizens who have helped others in need are sometimes prosecuted, that they “wouldn’t have stopped to help if they were not guilty” of causing the accident. So Zhu and other lawyers are drafting “Good Samaritan” legislation that would not only shield passerby from legal action if they help others in obvious emergency need, but may even penalize those who don’t. Thus, the death of “Yueyue” — the girl’s nickname — may lead to a sea change in China; she died from systemic organ failure on October 21, 8 days after she was run over. She was 2.
The purpose of the H.U. is to “Recognize the Unknown, the Forgotten and the Obscure People who Had an Impact on Our Lives.” I know this child is one of many who have died this year, but her death has struck a nerve in China, finally leading to a change in their legal concepts relating to Good Samaritans.
I find it incredible that they would actually prosecute people for helping, but they did. So Yueyue’s death isn’t in vain: her death will help thousands of people — not just those who ignore peril and stop to help others, but also all the people that will now be helped, rather than stepped over.
A sad story, sure, but a noble legacy indeed.