A woman in Henan has died after being run over twice. Footage showed her being run over once, then again about a minute later, as pedestrians stood by and failed to act.

Shocking footage of the accident emerged when a Weibo user posted it on the popular microblogging site Wednesday. Afterwards, the Chongqing Morning Post connected it to an incident on April 21.

The video was posted by a verified user who identifies himself as a car critic. It showed the woman, who has been identified by police with the surname Ma, standing in the middle of the street at a crosswalk at night.

[Video: Graphic scenes]
YouTube video

It showed a car that appears to be a taxi running her over as she looks down. The vehicle does not stop.

The accident occurs in front of witnesses waiting to cross on both sides of the road, but they do not appear to act. When the flow of traffic stops they cross the road without moving towards Ma, who is still lying across the inner lane. One bystander appears to make a call on his phone as vehicles continue to drive past her. She appears to briefly lift her head at one point.

Approximately a minute after she was first hit, another car runs over Ma again. The driver stops the car after driving several meters, and the driver gets out and walks towards Ma as the video ends.


Local police said on Weibo the night of the accident that the woman had died. The next morning they announced that they had arrested two drivers.

The video triggered outcry on social media in China, where onlookers are often reluctant to intervene. Many users commented on the video, expressing shock and sadness, and decrying the apathy of the bystanders.

One Weibo user said: “Even if the hardware is built well, if the quality of people cannot keep up, [China] will remain far from a strong country.”

Another said: “I want to know what happened to this girl. Did they catch the first driver who hit her? Did anyone take her to the hospital afterwards? So sad, a live person being ignored just like garbage.”

bystander china
Photo: Screenshot.

The top comment on the video, which received over 80,000 “likes” as of Thursday night, said: “The most caring ones are always the netizens, the most indifferent ones are always the bystanders. I don’t know if it’s the netizens who don’t go out on the street, or if it’s the bystanders who don’t go online.”

The “bystander effect” is partially a result of the lack of legal protection and some cases of extortion by injured parties or others pretending to be injured.

In a notable 2011 case that horrified the world, a two-year old child, Wang Yue, was run over by two separate trucks as more than a dozen people passed by without helping. She was finally rescued by an elderly garbage collector but died a few days later.

China is moving towards nationwide legislation to protect those who try to help in an emergency from being held liable for accidentally causing injury. It recently added a “Good Samaritan” provision in the preamble for the country’s first unified code of civil law, which is expected to be passed in 2020.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.