Jul 16, 2008

Yet another reason not to drive here

I used to read the rants and raves section of Craigslist for off-color entertainment. Living in Beijing, I read the forums on thebeijinger.com. I recently encountered some references to a Beijing expat that recently had a most unfortunate car accident while touring the local countryside. This broken windshield is from where he allegedly ran down a pheasant peasant [1].



The topic really got me interested, not because the topic was inherently interesting, but because it turns out all the associated posts and threads had been locked and then deleted by the forum admins. What could be so damning that it would warrant multiple threads to be deleted permanently? It turns out, nothing really, but the thread is entertaining. Since most stuff on the Internet exists in perpetuity thanks to tools like the Google cache, I can repost this very interesting post for you here.
What would you have done?
Posted on thebeijinger.com on Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:52 am by mrathell

Yesterday my family and I (2 sons and fiancée) drove to the southwest of Beijing to do some whitewater rafting and cave exploration; unfortunately we were in an accident before we arrived.

We were driving our 1995 Jeep Cherokee through 张坊 ZhangFang county on the way to 十渡 ShiDu in 房山 Fangshan District at approximately 12:11 noon on June 29th when the accident happened. We were driving on a 2 lane highway (one lane east and one lane west) with a small bike lane, tall corn crops lining the road and it was drizzling rain at the time.

There were cars several yards in front and in back of me when an old man on a bike rode directly out of the corn crops into traffic without looking either way or stopping. Because of the height and density of the vegetation on the side of the road, we did not see him until he appeared on the road in front of us. I was driving about 50 KPH (under the posted speed limit) and he appeared in the road about 3 yards in front of me. I was unable to swerve into the other lane to avoid hitting him because there was oncoming traffic that would have resulted in a head on collision. My only option was to hit my brakes and steer into the oncoming traffic lane as far as I could without striking another car.

The front passenger side of my car struck the old man on his bike and he rolled across the hood, hit and smashed the windshield and landed on the road.

We jumped out of the car and my fiancée ran to his aid while I looked for our mobile phone to call for help. My Fiancée tried unsuccessfully to flag down someone to help. We attempted to call 120 (the ambulance) and 122 (the police) but both wanted the exact location and we did not know exactly where we were.

The old mans leg was bleeding really bad, at the time we though his bone was protruding from the wound. We feared for the old mans life because of the speed at which the blood was flowing out of the wound. I immediately took one of my sons’ sweaters and tied it tightly around his leg to reduce the blood flow while looking for any other cuts or bruises.

Because we were unable to pinpoint our exact location, made many unsuccessful attempts to flag down assistance and was afraid that his wounds were life threatening, we made the decision to rush him to the hospital rather than risking him dying.

I picked him up and laid him in the back of the jeep and my fiancée sat back there with him so that she could continue to apply pressure to the wound.

His bike and our side-view mirror that broke off during the accident was in the middle of the road, so I kicked it the mirror to side of the rode and moved his bike to the side of the road for fear it may cause an accident to other drivers.

I drove us to the nearest store where we asked the locals where the nearest hospital is. One of the patrons in the store rode with us to show us where a clinic was. We arrived at the clinic and my fiancée rushed inside to get help. Two of the clinics staff came out to look at the old man but because they were only a clinic they were not able to treat him. The clinic did have an ambulance, so we were able to put him on a gurney, load him into the back of the ambulance and they rushed him to the nearest hospital about 40 minutes away.

We followed behind the ambulance and arrived at the hospital about 10 minutes after the paramedics. When we arrived the ambulance driver was waiting for us to pay for the cost of using the ambulance, so we paid him 260 rmb.

We waited in the emergency room for the results and paid 3000 rmb for the initially care and treatment. Also there was a female who also came to the hospital with him but we aren’t sure if she is a relative or friend but she did know his name, age and other personal information.

The doctor performed CT scans, MRI and other necessary procedures to help determine the extent of his injuries. The doctor informed us that his leg was not broken but would require stitches; he had one broken rib and a broken collarbone. We were also told that his injuries were not life threatening and that he would be ok.

We were later informed that he would need an operation to reset his fractured collarbone and we would need to pay a 10,000 deposit for the operation. At that point we thought the best thing to do was to call the police to report the accident to them.

About 20 to 30 minutes later the police arrived and took our statements and the statements of the old man. The police then had us follow them in our jeep to 良乡 LiangXiang traffic police located by 良乡北关 LiangXiang BeiGuan. The police took more statements and informed us that they would be keeping our jeep until they figure out what to do.

The police told us that because we altered the crime scene, we accepted 100% blame for the accident. It didn’t matter that we made a life or death decision to rush him to the hospital immediately, it didn’t matter that by leaving that debris in the middle of the road could of caused other accidents.

The police walked me over to a clinic to have my blood drawn to make sure I didn’t have alcohol in my system (no, I didn’t have anything to drink all week).

We are now waiting for the police to call us and inform us when we need to go back to Liang Xiang Traffic Police station 良乡 and to the hospital to pay the 10,000 rmb.

We plan to keep going back to visit the old man to make sure he is ok and too make sure he is well taken care of. We will take him a new bike and pay his lost wages during his expected recovery time.

What would you have done??? The police keep telling us that we should of stayed at the scene, that we shouldn't of moved the debris off of the road. The fact that a life was given prority over a crime scene is irrevelant to them.

The reason it is an issue is because of the family. We don't want them to see us as a cash cow. We went to the police to make sure everything is noted by the law. Also, I feel, even though we are paying for everything, the old man was to blame for the accident for driving out of bushes, direcly into traffic without looking. I feel that some of the blame should be put on him.....honestly I believe 99% of the blame should be on him and 1% for me being there.

Would you of handled it the same way or stayed at the scene of the accident, or ???

So, as if we Beijing expats didn't need yet another reason to drive here, in addition to the horrible gridlock, stress, and high cost that already exist, here's another: litigious peasants on bicycles driving out into the front of cars in the countryside. At the very least, let's all reflect on the lesson that this particular upper crust expat learned firsthand.


References:
Photos on Flickr
Links to cached pages of deleted forum posts:
Thread: "What would you have done?" (Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:52 am)
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6
Thread: "mrathell's thread about his car accident" (Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:12 pm)
Page: 1 2
Thread: "What would you have done? Update from mrathell" (Posted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:54 pm)
Page: 1 2 3 4 5

Footnotes:
[1] Originally a typo. Obviously a pheasant wouldn't have broken that much glass, and there would be some feathers embedded in the windshield.

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