Dec 29, an 83-year-old man fell down on a sidewalk in Fuzhou City. 2 passers-by attempted to help but were held back by others for “their own good”. With the crowd watching, the old man laid on the icy floor till his last breath.
According to a witness Mr. Chen, yesterday around 2:55 P.M., the grey-haired old man was walking on the sidewalk when he suddenly fell over with his face down. Mr. Chen said there was no one nearby when he dropped. Since there were several gravels on the sidewalk, the old man must have slipped and fell over.
At that time, five or six people surrounded him and watched, but no one stepped up to offer help. The old man lied on his stomach with his eyes closed tight. Blood came out from the corner of his mouth, while his hands trembled.
“Is he still alive?” someone asked.
Several minutes later, two young women forced their way through the crowd and crouched down to the old man, “Could it be heart attack? See if there is medicine on him.”
One of them held the old man’s hands, the other tried his pocket, but didn’t find medicine. Then they grabbed his arms and were about to pull him up when someone said: “There is hidden camera around here. You girls should not get involved. Things like this can be very hard to explain.” The two thought for a while and finally let go. They stood up and called 120 and 110 (ambulance and police).
The old man had stopped breathing when the ambulance arrived. The police found a passbook with 100,000 yuan deposit on the old man’s body.
Onlookers suggested that he was on his way to the bank across the road. Around 3:30 P.M., the old man’s daughter, granddaughter and other relatives hurried to the site. The daughter kneeled down by her father in tears and covered her father’s body with her coat. The daughter said, her father’s surname is Zheng, 83 years old. He is a retired veteran cadre.
Up till now, the cause of this incident is still under investigation.
Story like that is not uncommon here in China. Most of the time it is not that they don’t want to help out, but the fear for possible “misunderstanding” and “responsibility” that follow up have taken the better of them.
4 years ago in Nanjing, a granny fell down when chasing bus, a guy named Peng Yu who just got off the bus came to her rescue and sent her to the hospital. However Peng was later sued by the granny for having pushed her down and resulted in her bone fracture. Peng ended up paying 45,000 yuan for his good deed. When he walked out of the court, he said: “I will not be so impulsive (to help) any more.”
When kind help was returned with unkind accusation, people would rather step back from what they originally thought as ethical obligation. Such extreme cases are strongly contagious: from individual confusion to group anxiety, and further get to influence the general social behavior. Social trust will come to extinction down the road.