Screenshot of the crowdfunding platform.
"Killed four people, couldn’t afford the compensation! Please HELP!"
Yang Long, from southwest China's Sichuan Province, posted the appeal on a crowdfunding platform on July 10, with a target amount of 200,000 yuan, after killing four people in a car accident two days ago. It soon sparked a hot debate and drew criticism from the public, even after he disconnected with the platform just a day later.
The post went on to say: “I ran over and killed four people accidentally. The family members of the victims were asking me to pay 120,000 yuan in total for the funeral as compensation. I couldn’t afford it! I am only 24 and I don’t want to go to jail. I started up my own business just not long ago! My family is not rich, and my dad passed away during my childhood.”
Yang also posted his ID and footage of the car accident online, with friends and colleagues verifying his account.
By that evening, 1,215 people had donated more than 23,900 yuan to his cause. However, the page was soon closed by the platform for "failing to pass the application requirement."
Yang said the accident occurred in the midst of heavy rain on the morning of July 8 as he drove to Zhongjiang County. A three-wheeled vehicle carrying four passengers was driving in reverse when he slammed into it. The vehicle flipped on impact, instantly killing the three men and one woman on board. Yang and his girlfriend were slightly wounded in the accident.
“It happened so suddenly and so horrifically with not even a single sign,” he said. “I feel so sorry for them. And I just want to help their families to get through the nightmare.”
“But I don’t have the money.”
Yang told the Chengdu Economic Daily that he had less than 20,000 yuan available, far less than the amount he had been requested by the family of the victims. So he impulsively posted the request on the crowdfunding platform.
In China, the responsible party in accidents usually pays for the medical treatment or funeral of the victim, especially when the latter is in a state of unconsciousness or simply incapable of covering their own fees.
According to police, the investigation is underway, and fault has not been assigned. It was clear that the three-wheeler was driving in reverse. But Yang was also suspected of speeding, though he hasn't been formally charged with wrongdoing.
The case and ensuing plea for help have drawn the attention of the public. Regarding the crowdfunding, some believe Yang's intentions were good and driven from a desire to help the victim's family. He deserved the help of the public because the deaths weren't intentional. However, others wonder how a killer could be helped even if that was not anything intentional, and, considering he's not the victim in the accident, he should pay the sum all by himself.
Yang's case has placed the censorship of crowdfunding platforms under the spotlight.
"His appeal should not have been allowed to be posted online in the first place," an anonymous officer at an NGO in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, argued when interviewed by the Chengdu Economic Daily.
"The case did not benefit the public and was not charitable in nature. The platform should have stopped it at first sight. He should shoulder the responsibility himself, as a punishment ruled by law," the official said.
"Besides, he should not have called for such help because he's not really in poverty."
As mentioned by Yang in an interview with the Chengdu Economic Daily, he owns a computer store worth about 100,000 yuan and a car. Although the car was damaged in the wreck, Yang has an insurance policy with coverage of 300,000 yuan.
According to the officer, Yang’s case exposed the current loopholes and negligence in crowdfunding’s verification and evaluation process. Due to the imperfect system, people who tell a good story often receive more donations than the ones who are really in need.
By now, the crowdfunding platform has refunded the money raised for Yang to the donors. The platform has yet to respond to the case.