Fearing the threat of blackmail, passersby were somewhat hesitant to help an elderly man who suddenly collapsed while crossing a street in Zhengzhou over the weekend. Only after snapping some pictures for evidence did they feel comfortable enough to venture over and check if he was alright.
Witnesses said that the man was rushing across the street and suddenly fell down. Lying sprawled on the ground with blood gushing from his face, wary onlookers worried that if they were the first to help, they would be the ones blamed for all that blood.
A small crowd grew before the onlookers thought to snap some preemptive pictures of the collapsed man in case he tried to sue. Safe from litigation, they approached and found that the man was badly hurt and called for an ambulance for him.
“He was bleeding, so nobody dared to help him,” said one of the onlookers. “No one wants to get blackmailed.”
Unfortunately, blackmail and extortion cases have become a fairly frequent occurrence in China. In July, a senior citizen took a dive off his own bike and then tried to blame the good Samaritan who came to his aid, making headlines across the country.
In February, an elderly Zhejiang man fell down in the street and was ignored by a handful of people and vehicles for eight minutes until he was eventually run over.
Many netizens see acting with caution in these kind of situations as a necessary evil in Chinese society.
“The onlookers acted with good sense. If you see some stranger lying on the ground, ask a friend to record him for you first. Better yet, ask a whole television crew if you can,” commented one netizen from Henan.
To curb this kind of thinking, the Shanghai government drafted a bill earlier this month which would provide liability protection to those with proper medical training who administer first aid to others needing help.
Cities including Hangzhou and Shenzhen have already introduced similar laws following several cases involving people getting extorted for cash after coming to the aid of a stranger in an emergency situation. Last year, a Guangdong man committed suicide after he was “harassed” for money by family members of an elderly man whom he’d helped on the street.
[Images via CCTV]