Throughout the years, a number of drivers in China have intentionally killed pedestrians that they accidentally hit due to a phenomenon called “hit-to-kill.”
Drawing the attention of international media, the horrifying trend has since received outcry and condemnation beyond China, with calls for justice for their unfortunate victims.
The practice first surfaced into the global spotlight in 2011, when a BMW knocked down two-year-old Wang Yue along a fruit market in Foshan, Guangdong province.
The incident, which was caught on surveillance camera, saw the vehicle roll over the toddler’s head and pause for a moment before reversing and advancing again.
The unlicensed female driver then got out of the minibus and said to Wang’s family, “Don’t say that I was driving the car. Say it was my husband. We can give you money.”
Wang — who was run over by a second vehicle and ignored by 18 pedestrians — succumbed to her injuries eight days later.
The tragic event shook the entire nation, but it was far from the first case.
In 2006, a 64-year-old woman in Taizhou, Zhejiang province was crushed five times, with the male driver claiming that he thought he had rolled over a trash bag.
Interestingly, the local court believed the driver’s defense, absolving him of intentional homicide and sentencing him to just three years for “negligence,” NetEase reported.
In 2010, a similar incident involving another BMW crushed the skull of a three-year-old boy in Xinyi, Jiangsu province, according to Sohu News.
A video shows that the male driver hit the toddler multiple times, but he was also only charged of accidentally causing death after claiming that he thought he was running over a trash bag.
The same story continues to 2017, when another male driver hit a nine-year-old girl in Huanggang, Hubei province.
However, unlike the cases mentioned above, the driver abducted his victim before killing and dumping her body on a farmland.
After a witness stepped forward, he was arrested two days later and admitted his crime, the South China Morning Post reported.
The cruel act, dubbed as the “hit-to-kill” phenomenon, is believed to be motivated by China’s own laws.
According to law professor Geoffrey Sant, most agree that it “stems at least in part from perverse laws on victim compensation,” where killing one in a traffic accident costs significantly less than paying a lifetime support if the victim survived.
Sant said that the compensation for killing — a one-time payment — typically runs between $30,000 and $50,000, while costs for a disabled survivor “can run into the millions.”
“Drivers who decide to hit-and-kill do so because killing is far more economical,” he wrote in his article for Slate.
In an interview with CBC, Sant, who is based in New York, described the phenomenon as a “really sad scenario.”
“I do want to be clear that this isn’t something that happens every time there’s an accident. But, it is true that drivers that hit a pedestrian will actually come back and hit them a second time, or even a third time, to make sure they’re dead.”
He added, “I think as long as the compensation is so out of wack there will be people who will continue to do this. The difference is astronomical and that’s why some people … will go back and kill the person.”
Meanwhile, the case of indifferent pedestrians may be attributed to the fact that Good Samaritans can find themselves entangled in legal trouble.
For instance, there are scammers who feign “road accident” schemes in China to milk compensation from gullible drivers and pedestrians who cause “additional damage” in the event they lend a helping hand.
For this reason, many have grown to mind their own business altogether, as in the unfortunate case of young Wang.
It’s unclear whether “hit-and-kill” victims will ever find justice, but the growing awareness about the phenomenon within and beyond China exposes potential flaws in its legal system.
Additionally, the state’s establishment of the Good Samaritan law — which relieves Good Samaritans of civil liability in the event a victim is harmed — in October 2017 is seen as a catalyst to more helping hands.
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