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Not Your Typical Suffocation Case
   2016-04-11 14:10:41    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Liu Ranran

By Liu Yan

It has been two weeks since a pregnant woman died after getting her neck caught in a roadside guardrail in Mizhi County, Shaanxi Province. To be honest, pictures and videos of the freaky incident still give me the creeps.

The police have confirmed that it was just a rare accident and no foul play was involved. As surveillance footage and an on-site investigation suggested, the woman accidentally got her neck trapped while fainting beside the rail. That¡¯s right. She happened to faint at the wrong place, and she died as a result.

What¡¯s extra sad about this story is that the woman was pregnant with twins. In other words, the accident didn¡¯t just cost one life. It cost three lives!!!

And this is not the first deadly case involving China's roadside guardrails in recent years. Back in 2010, an elderly woman in Nantong suffocated to death after getting her head stuck in a railing. In 2013, a young woman died after trapping her neck in a guardrail in downtown Beijing. Last year, an elderly man died in a similar situation, also in Beijing.

While China¡¯s housing construction authority has issued regulations that limit the spacing between railings in balconies in residential buildings to a maximum of 11 centimeters, there are no clear specifications regarding road railings.

A manager from a Chinese manufacturing company that specializes in road railings says their products have an open space of 15 or 17 centimeters.

So I guess the solution is pretty obvious. Take a page from the housing construction authority¡¯s book and make 11 centimeters the universal standard for the spacing between railings! Such tragedies won¡¯t keep happening then.

But here¡¯s the tricky part. That manager also says the municipal administrative departments are their biggest customers, and they won¡¯t even accept any new patterns (meaning rails with an open space that is not 15 or 17 centimeters).

Shame on those administrative departments. Bureaucracy much? Their refusal to be flexible and disregard for safety have literally killed innocent people!

That said, there are some other points I want to make regarding this particular case with the pregnant lady.

First of all, I have seen countless netizens jump to conclusions. They keep complaining about this ¡°cold society¡±, where no one is willing to step up to the plate and offer help. They blame all those previous cases where the people who get help turn around and blackmail their helpers. ¡°You did this to me! Give me monetary compensation, or I¡¯ll sue you!¡± Blah blah blah.

Yes, that could be the reason why many onlookers only kept watching, but please stick to the facts and don¡¯t exaggerate. Pictures and video footage clearly showed that some passersby tried their hardest to rescue the woman by pulling apart the rails. Unfortunately, they just didn¡¯t succeed. I mean, if you are not a professional firefighter, you naturally don¡¯t have the tools you need to pull off that sort of thing. It has nothing to do with anyone being ¡°cold¡±.

And of course, there had to be those conspiracy theorists. ¡°People keep talking about the rails, but how did the lady get stuck like that? It¡¯s so unnatural. Something fishy must have been going on.¡± I¡¯m sorry, but such comments make me so mad. Can no one READ anymore? Or maybe the question should be: does no one BOTHER to read anymore? Reports clearly say that the lady fainted and accidentally got her neck trapped. She died of suffocation, and it was not a murder! Seriously, everyone out there is NOT to get you! And everything does NOT come down to someone plotting against you! This is real life, not 24, the TV series!

Plus, enough with the ¡°People are hopeless! This society is hopeless! I¡¯m so profoundly disappointed¡± routine! It¡¯s not hip to act all cynical and pretend like everything is bad to the core. At the very least, it¡¯s not responsible to jump to conclusions before you even get the facts straight. So how about doing your research first and then giving others a piece of your mind on the Internet?

I¡¯m not saying all criticism is bad. I just think it¡¯s necessary to know what you are talking about. I do agree with the particular criticism that taking pictures and recording videos of that pregnant lady was tasteless. Releasing those pictures and footage online was even more tasteless. It showed an utter lack of respect for a fellow human being. The only purpose of those things should be to help the police figure out what really happened. They should not be made available for public gawking, period.

By the way, an official from Mizhi Public Security Bureau says an autopsy is required to come to a decisive conclusion. Without the autopsy, no one can say for sure if a heatstroke or hypertension led to the woman¡¯s fainting, and consequently led to her death.

Guess what? Her family refuses to give the go-ahead. I don¡¯t exactly know why, and I haven¡¯t seen any reports touch on that. My guess is, the family wants her to ¡°rest in peace¡± and doesn¡¯t want her to endure more posthumous humiliation. That is the typical ¡°Chinese way¡± (for lack of a better phrase) when it comes to the dead body of a family member.

Being Chinese myself, I can certainly understand that, but for the sake of finding out the truth and possibly helping to prevent similar tragedies from happening again in the future, I hope the family will eventually come around and allow the autopsy.



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