In China, It's Cheaper To Kill Than It Is To Maim

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

Slate has a story about hit-and-run crashes in China that proves that truth is usually stranger than fiction.

Geoffrey Sant, who teaches law at Fordham and is on the board of the New York Chinese Cultural Center, details a trend among Chinese drivers to kill the people they hit with their cars to keep from paying millions in medical costs over their lifetimes. Often, the drivers plead ignorance — that they thought it was a bag of trash, or a box — and rarely serve significant jail sentences.

Incidents captured on video show drivers sometimes backing over their victims several times to insure that they’ve been killed, according to the report.

The story details a disparity between restitution for people killed and injured in accidents, and often lax jail sentences for drivers convicted of hit-and-run fatal crashes. (In May, Indian actor Salman Khan was sentenced to only five years in jail for running over five people — killing one — while he was drunk. In 2012, a teen in Thailand was convicted of killing nine people and didn’t serve any jail time.)

Hitting and killing someone may only run $30,000-$50,000 in China, Sant writes. Paying that person’s medical bills for life could add up to millions.

“‘Double-hit cases’ have been around for decades. I first heard of the ‘hit-to-kill’ phenomenon in Taiwan in the mid-1990s when I was working there as an English teacher. A fellow teacher would drive us to classes. After one near-miss of a motorcyclist, he said, ‘If I hit someone, I’ll hit him again and make sure he’s dead.'”

The most chilling account recalls the case where a man struck a 3-year-old boy with the rear of his BMW X6, rolling over his head. The man pulls forward, over the boy again, and then gets out of the car to guide the car over the young boy again. The man pulled away from the scene — running over the boy for the fourth time — and was only charged with accidentally killing the boy.

In 2012, a 2-year-old girl named Wang Yue was struck by two vans in China and lay dying on the street for 7 minutes while 18 passersby walked past the mortally wounded girl. The driver of the van was only sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail for his role in the killing.

Sant points out that not all drivers who hit people escape without penalties. A man who struck a woman on a bicycle, then returned to stab her to make sure she was dead, was convicted and executed. But those cases appear to be the exception and not the rule.

Yet even when a driver hits a victim multiple times, it can be hard to prove intent and causation — at least to the satisfaction of China’s courts. Judges, police, and media often seem to accept rather unbelievable claims that the drivers hit the victims multiple times accidentally, or that the drivers confused the victims with inanimate objects.

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  • Jkk6 Jkk6 on Sep 09, 2015

    Darn it! Got road kill on my shoes again.

  • 1998redwagon 1998redwagon on Sep 09, 2015

    interesting take on a number of different ideas in the threads above. what is not mentioned (getting back to the original post) is that in some countries outside the us/canada etc, if you injure someone you are culturally expected to care for them. what an interesting idea. there is no insurance to save you as either the injured or injuring party. perhaps the ultimate in libertarian thinking. in grad school a filipino woman in our lab was injured by an undergraduate student riding his bike on the sidewalk entirely too fast. she required hospitalization for about 5 days until she was stabilized. to his credit the biker stayed until the police arrived and got her in an ambulance and took his story. i am sure he received a ticket and not much else. one of the other grad students in the lab (from south korea) asked me when he was going to come by and see her and make restitution. he was in disbelief when i told him never. that's why the university requires all grad students to have adequate insurance.

  • Master Baiter I'll wait for the actual driving reviews. User interface quality and range are big question marks.
  • Jeff S Years ago Kentucky issued a license plate with a horse running with the words "Unbridled Spirit." The religious right objected and did not want the plate because they believed it encouraged people to go to the race track and bet on horses. Anyone who knows anything about Kentucky knows its famous for raising horses and yes there is Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is run but horses in themselves are not sinful. It got so bad that the state issued a blank sticker to put over the horse and the logo. Kentucky also issued a plate for those who were offended stating "In God We Trust." The latest KY plate has no logo and nothing. I always picked the horse because I thought horses were something to be proud of and associated with Kentucky.
  • Old Scold As a Marylander, I got those plates assigned to me when I purchased my car in 2016, 4 years after the so-called anniversary. I figured they were using up NOS, and it never occurred to me to check out the URL. I still don't care. It's a stupid issue, but I have my tag number memorized should I need it.
  • Hpycamper I drive a car with automatic braking and have nothing good to say about it. It has activated going around corners on mountain roads when the hillside is close to the road, when lawn sprinklers turned on and sprayed the car, and driving past cars on the shoulder that are making right turns. Luckily these phantom brake activations have not caused a wreck. The systems are just too dumb.
  • SCE to AUX How long until that $90k yields a profit for my grandchildren?