, BEIJING, Oct 21 – A Chinese toddler who was ignored by 18 passers-by as she lay critically injured in the street after being run over by two vehicles has died, the hospital treating her said on Friday.
Surveillance camera footage of people walking past the two-year-old girl, nicknamed Yue Yue, as she lay bleeding and unconscious sparked a wave of condemnation and soul-searching on China’s popular social networking sites.
A rubbish collector who finally moved the girl to the side of the street in the southern Chinese city of Foshan was hailed as a hero, but the incident also led many online commentators to question the state of Chinese morality.
“Yue Yue died of systemic organ failure,” a spokesman from the hospital treating her told AFP, adding that no expense had been spared to try to save the girl, whose parents are migrant workers.
Doctors had earlier said Yue Yue, who had been in a coma since the October 13 incident, was unlikely to survive.
Yue Yue’s death was one of the most popular topics on China’s weibos – microblogging sites similar to Twitter – as people expressed sorrow and anger over the incident.
“Farewell to little Yue Yue. There are no cars in heaven,” wrote one microblogger on Sina’s weibo.
“Yue Yue was consumed for a week by the fake kindness of netizens… All the wishes are fake and only the 18 passers-by are real. Farewell, and do not be born in China in your next life,” another weibo user wrote.
Many commentators speculated that the failure to help Yue Yue was motivated by fear of being blamed for her injuries after a high-profile 2006 case in which a driver who stopped to help an elderly woman was later prosecuted.
Peng Yu, then 26, said he stopped after seeing the woman fall in the eastern city of Nanjing, but she accused him of knocking her down with his car, and a court ordered him to pay her 45,000 yuan ($7,000) in damages.
“The judge in Peng Yu’s case in Nanjing has destroyed the kindness of a whole nation and it is difficult to recover,” wrote one weibo user on Friday.
A commentary in Friday’s Global Times daily said the incident had exposed the “dark side” of Chinese society, but rejected suggestions that the law should punish those who fail to help victims.
“It is more appropriate to establish a reward system for those who offer help, rather than punish those who do not,” it said. “The Yue Yue incident reminds us of where China is standing on the ladder of its moral development.”
Police in Foshan said the drivers of both vehicles that hit the young girl had been detained and would face trial.
One was detained the night of the accident and the other gave himself up three days later, police said.