Some of the passers-by looked the toddler over in apparent curiosity as they strolled by, but did not pause to help. A second vehicle hit the child and drove on before a trash collector took pity on her, according to China Daily.
And now the driver of the van has told a local radio station that he didn’t stop since if the child was dead, it would cost him only a few thousand dollars, but if he stopped and was responsible for her living, it would have run into the hundreds of thousands.
The incident, captured by a surveillance camera and aired by Southern Television Guangdong, showed the toddler, whose family calls her “Yue Yue” being hit by a white van on a narrow market street.
The driver paused with Yue Yue underneath the van, then continued — with his rear wheels running over her a second time as he left the scene with the little girl bleeding from the head into the street.
Over a dozen people walked by child without offering help over the next six minutes. Then she was hit a second time by another van, after which a rag collector, Chen Xianmei, noticed her and came to her aid.
China Daily says Yue Yue has been declared “brain dead” by doctors, who say she could die at any time.
“The riders of four electric bicycles, a tricycle and three passers-by all chose to ignore her and no one at a shop close to the scene came to her aid,” reported China Daily.
“Seven minutes after she was first hit by the van, a 57-year-old rag collector noticed the girl and moved her to the curb. The woman tried talking to the shopkeeper but received no response. She then walked into the street and a few seconds later, the girl’s mother appeared and rushed away with the girl.”
The girl received emergency surgery in Foshan before being transferred to the General Hospital in Guangzhou.
Police caught the truck driver soon after the incident and the van driver turned himself in on Sunday afternoon.
Before the accident, the girl, just back with her mother from kindergarten, was left alone at the hardware shop of the family when her mother went to collect dried clothes. When she returned, the mother could not find her daughter at the shop or anywhere nearby until she heard the rag-collecter shout, according to Guangzhou Daily.
According to reports the van driver had just split up from his girlfriend and was talking on his mobile phone when he hit the girl.
According to Foshan Radio, the driver told reporters in a telephone interview that he did not stop because, “If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan ($3,125). But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands yuan.”
When she ran from shop to shop for help, the rag collector was told by a number of shopkeepers to mind her own business, according to Nafang Daily.
“The case provoked much public anger. With many condemning the cold-bloodiness of the passers-by and blaming their behavior on previous high-profile court cases.”
In June, Xu Yunhe was ordered by a court in Tianjin to pay an elderly woman he had helped more than 100,000 yuan.
In the guidelines on how to help elderly people who have fallen down, issued by the Ministry of Health in September, the public are advised: “Don’t rush to lend a hand to the elderly after seeing them fall over. It should be handled by different measures in different situations.”
The ministry said the guidelines have nothing to do with morality and ethics but explain how to deliver assistance in a scientifically proper way.
“It is a story that has deeply unsettled millions in China, posing troubling questions about whether three decades of headlong economic development has left nothing but a moral vacuum in its wake,” reported the BBC.
China Daily reported incidents in January in which elderly men who fell in the street were left alone because people did not want to get involved.
Many CCTV viewers reacted with dismay, citing the incident as further evidence that China had become a “world without morals.”
“Everyone is praising the rubbish-collecting granny for helping, but isn’t it normal to help someone who is wounded or dying?”, asked Johnny Yao on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, “This just shows how abnormal is the moral situation in this society! The sad Chinese, poor China are we even rescuable?”
However many others said there could be no excuse, and that the scenes in the video should “shake the soul of every conscientious person” in China, reported the British newspaper the Telegraph.
“Even if the passers-by couldn’t rescue her, they could dial 120 and 110 [China’s emergency numbers] and help to stop vehicles, then the little Yueyue wouldn’t have been run over by the second car,” said another comment posted by ‘Dull Baby’.
“What’s up with people these days? They make so many excuses to turn a blind eye. The society is so indifferent, so heartless,” said Yueyue’s father, who was shown weeping with his wife on television news bulletins. He said he didn’t want to enter the moral debate, only to pray for his child’s survival.
“Yueyue is so lovely, often amuses us. Sometime if I quarrelled with her mother and if her mother cried, she would tell us not to cry, she always tried to amuse us. I don’t have any thoughts now, I just hope my child will wake up and call me Dad again.”