Three Teens Drowned In Jingzhou

This is a big Internet story in China.  Below are three reports which reflect the diversity of information sources in China: (1) the Xinhua report which paid tribute to the three heroes; (2) an in-depth investigative report by Southern Weekend; (3) an Internet forum post from a local resident. 

(Xinhua via China Daily)  Teenage heroes mourned in central China.  October 28, 2009.

A grand memorial service was held Wednesday in central Hubei Province to honor three college students who died rescuing two children from the Yangtze River on October 24.

Thousands of people holding chrysanthemum flowers went to the Jingzhou Memorial House to see off the teenagers, all 19-year-old students from the Yangtze University based in Jingzhou City. The trio were Chen Jishi, He Dongxu and Fang Zhao.

State Councilor Liu Yandong, Hubei Provincial Party secretary Luo Qingquan and Provincial Governor Li Hongzhong sent their wreaths to the ceremony. "The three heroes gave life to others and risked death themselves," said Zhang Zhongjia, Communist Party secretary of the Yangtze University. "They are the pride of their parents, elites of the nation and models of the time."

People touched by their selfless act had donated more than 500,000 yuan ($73,206) to their relatives as of Wednesday, Zhang said.

More than 10 students from the Yangtze University formed a ladder with one student holding another's arms to rescue the two boys in the river on the afternoon of October 24. One of the students lost his grip on his classmates and all of them were in danger. Several members of a winter swimming team nearby came to help. Chen Jishi, He Dongxu and Fang Zhao were swept away in the torrent, but others were saved.

Millions of Internet users made online comments on major news portals to show their grief.

"I am also a college student. I feel sorrow for you," said "Liu Zhuoya," from northwestern Xi'an City. However, some questioned the sacrifice. "Sacrifice three and rescue two, is that worthwhile?" asked "Tiaozhantianya" on the forum of "Rescue can not be blind as they could not swim."

"Besides economic values, society has moral and social values. Morality is above self-interest," said Li Jiahua, deputy head of the China Youth University of Political Sciences. "It was a heroic deed," he said.

(Southern Weekend)  By Yang Jiebing.  November 4, 2009.

The second body was retrieved from the river near Jingzhou at 4:05pm on October 24.  The body retriever Wang Shouhai remembered clearly that the drowned students "wore white clothes" and his face under the water was even paler than the color of his clothes.

This victim of drowning was Yangtze University (Hubei province) student Fang Zhao.  On that afternoon, this first-year student and his fellow students joined hands to form a human chain to step into the icy river and rescued two middle-school students who had fallen into the river.  But three young men Fang Zhao, Chen Jishi, and He Dongxu fell to the bottom of the river instead.

At the time, Wang Shouhai was standing on the front of his boat with a nylon cord in his hand.  There was a hook at the other end of nylon cord which was submerged under the waterline with the body.  Behind Wang Shouhai is a fellow body retriever who was also holding a cord that was tied to the wrist of the body.  The boat edged slowly towards the shore.  On the shore, the desperate and frightened students of the drowning victims waited.

This scene was filmed by a reporter who had rushed to the scene.  Several days later, the photo was published along with a report entitled <The body retrievers negotiated the price while holding the rope tied to the victim in his hand>.  Previously, there were already many Internet posts about how "the fishermen ignored rescuing the living and only retrieved corpses for profit."  Even as the heroism of the young students touched all of China, the "body retrievers who negotiated prices while holding onto the body" and "who refused to render help" became the targets of condemnation.

Who participated in the rescue that afternoon?  Did the fishermen refuse to give help?  After the students were drowned, what was the truth behind the story of "price negotiation"? ... many extremely controversial facts from that long and tragic afternoon remain to be clarified.  This story is far from over.

The rescuers were a group of happy 17/18 year olds.  "They leaped up and dived into the water in style."  But they jumped instead into a trap formed by a deep ravine and a strong undercurrent.

At 2:30pm, the body retriever Wang Shouhai received a telephone call from his fellow villager Chen Xing about bodies needing to retrieved from Baota Bay.  Wang Shouhai brought along his own hook, which was attached to a long nylon cord.  The hook was used once upon a time to fish the China sturgeon and other big fish in the Yangtze river.  However those big fishes are long gone, and so the hook is now used to retrieve bodies.

At just past 3pm, Wang Shouhai, Chen Xing and six other persons arrived at Baota Bay in two fishing boats.  Chen Xing's younger brother Chen Bo was already there.  Among the "body retrievers," Chen Bo was the person who had the "say-so.'  The equipment for the body retrievers belonged to Chen Bo's "Jingzhou city Yangtze River Upstream Salvage Limited Company."  Earlier, the teachers and leaders of the Yangtze University had hurried over to the shore of Baota Bay.

The river surface was quiet, as the waters had already covered the despair and terror earlier on.  More than two hours ago, Fang Zhao, Chen Jishi, He Dongxu and their fellow students entered the water from the sandbank on Baota Bay.  Before they leaped into the water, these young people did not seem to mind entering the wintry waters.

These rescuers are a bunch of happy 17/18 year olds.  At the time, they imbued a romantic heroism to their rescue attempt.  On November 2, Gong Xiangtao illustrated how he entered the water: "I took a few steps back.  Then I charged forward, leaped up and dived into the water in grand style."

As soon as she entered the water, 18-year-old Kong Xuan felt herself sinking to the bottom of the river.  She was supposed to know how to swim, but her contact lens popped out when she entered the water.  With 600 degrees of near-sightedness, she could not tell which direction was the shore.  She swam for a while and heard someone shouting from the shore, "Kong Xuan, why are you swimming towards the middle of the river?"  Suddenly, she felt all her strength was gone.  She was sure that she would die for sure -- that strange dream was becoming true so quickly -- the abstract damp cold and stickiness suddenly became the concrete river water that would devour her shortly.

The strange dream occurred on the afternoon during a quick nap.  The class was planning to go to hold BBQ at Baota Bay on October 24.  When the students returned to the dormitory that afternoon, they went to buy cooking utensils and food at the market near the school while Kong Xuan sneaked a quick nap and entered a dream.  It was a watery world with bone-chilling cold and feet-freezing stickiness.  She ran into two grey-cloaked monks in a small town who told her that they were going to beg for alms from benevolent persons.

Nine days later, Kong Xuan recalled her near-death experience:  Memory fragments came back; she even remembered at just past 11pm when they traveled by bus from the school to Baota Bay, she spotted the two grey-cloaked monks of her dream walking down a street in Jingzhou city.

Just as Kong Xuan was about to give up to despair, she touched an unfamiliar shoulder.  Just a few dozen seconds ago, she had fallen off the shoulder of another unfamiliar shoulder into the river.

This is Baota Bay, which has the most attractive beach in the Jinzhou section of the Yangtze River.  Drownings also occur here frequently.  It was a calm and sunny day.  At around noon, Kong Xuan and more than twenty students from the Journalism Department in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences came here.  Other students from the School of Medicine, School of Accounting and other schools were present too.

They cooked BBQ, they strolled, they took photos and they played with the water.  Some people even climbed trees.  At 2 pm or so, Kong Xuan saw He Dongxu swinging on a tree branch and she wanted to get up there as well.  But He Dongxu said, "You are so fat, so why do you want to climb up here?"  That was the last thing that He Dongxu said to her.

Chen Xuande and Chen Hengyun had come over from Buhe town on the other side of the river to sell fish.  They were napping at the time.  They were fishing on the night of October 23.  Just before sunrise, they took their fish haul to sell in Baota Bay.  By the time that Kong Xuan, He Dongxu and others arrived at Baota Bay, Chen Xuande had sold most of their fish and hoped to sell the rest before sundown.  At 2pm, the two of them were making up their sleep from last night.

In Sanba village, Buhe town, the body retriever Wang Shouhai was also napping.  He has not received any body retrieval assignments for several months already.

14-year-old Chen Tianliang and 12-year-old Zhang Zhipeng were also planning to go home.  They came to play at Baota Bay around noon.  Seeing that they had many sand particles on their bodies, they decided to wash themselves by the river because their parents would scold them if they went home in that shape.

61-year-old winter swimmer Lu Dezhong was in front of the winter swimmer's blue club house waiting for his teammates 60-year-old Yang Tianlin and 45-year-old Han Deyuan to change clothes.  They had begun their swim across the Yangtze River at noon and they had just gotten back.  It was time to go home for lunch.

Afterwards, it was speculated that the first ones to discover that Chen Tianliang and Zhang Zhipeng had fallen into the river were Telecommunication Class 5091's Li Jialong and School of Architecture Construction Class 0901's Chen Jishi.  They did not even take off their clothes before they leaped into the river.  Afterwards, School of Literature 5091 class's Fang Zhao, Telecommunication Class 5092's Xu Bingcheng, Accounting Class 5094's Kong Xiangtao, Telecommunication Class 5091's Zhang Yongbo also entered the river from various spots.  Kong Xuan and He Dongxu also rushed over to jump into the river.

These younger students did not realize that they had jumped into a trap.  The Yangtze River flows from the west to the east.  It passes through the Jinzhou bridge, and hits the sand bar in the middle of the river when an undercurrent reverses direction: the calm water surface has an eddy underneath which has cut a deep ravine of more than ten meters in depth.

"From the shore, you see that the river bottom is just a few steps deep.  But if you move forward, there is a 75 degree slope that falls downward suddenly."  The experienced winter swimmer Han Deyuan said afterwards.

The deep ravine and the cross-current drew the student rescuers into desperate straits.  The chaos and terror exploded quickly on the river.  The old fishermen Chen Xuande and Chen Hengyun woke up from their nap.

The sound of the two middle-school students did not wake them up.  The university student rescuers did not reach out to them either.

Chen Xuande and Chen Hengyun were awakened by the screams.  Chen Dexuan threw the lifesaving buoys on his boat over and raised the two anchors in the front and back of his boat.  He was going to move his boat over.  "I have a hip injury.  I am 70-year-old.  I didn't dare to enter the water."  69-year-old Chen Hengyun said to the reporter afterwards: "I really don't know how to swim."  In truth, this old man is well-known among the Jingnan villagers as a "dry-land duck."

The rescue effort that became an Internet sensation afterwards occurred within these few brief minutes.  The student Kong Xuan who was in the water had grabbed the weak shoulder of another student Gong Xiangtao.  At the time, Gong Xiangtao had also lost his strength.  "At the time, I was thinking about who was throwing a rock on me who is already at the bottom of a well."  Gong Xiangtao is one year younger than Kong Xuan.  They did not know each other before.  They became good friends afterwards.  Gong Xiangtao told Kong Xuan, "If you caused my death at the time, you will regret it for the rest of your life."

Kong Xuan smirked about Gong Xiangtao's idea that she was dropping a rock down the well.  The reason why they jumped into the river was that they wanted to help Gong Xiangtao, Chen Jishi and Fang Zhao who had jumped in first to rescue the others.

In order to help the student rescuers, the nine non-swimmers and lesser-swimmers such as Kong Xuan, He Dongxu, Jiang Menglin, Huang Jian, Chang Ziji, Wan Lisa, Jia Yunyun, Li Like and Meng Lianghu formed a "human chain" into the river.  The nine came from three different class years and they were all strangers to each other.

Nine days later, they were unable to reconstruct the order by which the human chain was constructed.  They only remembered that the taller He Dongxu was in front of the human chain.  The water reached the chest of the 178cm tall He Dongxu.

Chen Jialong, Fang Zhao, Xu Bingcheng and Zhang Yongbo continued to swim towards the middle school student Chen Tianliang.  Li Jialong was born in Guiyang and has never done any outdoor swimming.  His jeans look in water and his legs felt heavier and heavier.  Li Jialong pushed on and grabbed Chen Tianliang.  Cheers and applause came from the shore.  But Chen grabbed him forcefully immediately.  Li felt that an eddy was dragging both of them downwards.  So he decided to abandon the rescue and returned to shore.  But he had no strength left.

In the human chain, Li Like saw Li Jialong struggling with his hands in the water.  Li Like said, "I was very anxious at the time."

But during those few tense minutes, the two middle students were rescued.  Chen Tianliang was escorted by Fang Zhao, Xu Bingcheng and Zhang Yongbo to the side of the fishing boat of Chen Hengyun.  Chen Hengyun  pulled him out of the water.  At the same time, Chen Jishi and Gong Xiangtao swam towards the middle school student Zhang Zhipeng, who was closer to shore.  Chen Jishi lifted Zhang Zhipeng up to the water level while Gong Xiangtao pushed him towards the human chain.  The young boy went through the hands of He Dongxu, Kong Xuan and Li Like back to the beach.

After handing Zhang Zhipeng to the human chain, Fang Zhao swam towards Li Jialong.  This was the last that the 5091 fellow students saw him.

Chen Jishi and Xu Bingcheng were quickly weakening.  The human chain attempted to approach them.  But the ditch in Baota Bay caused the human chain to lose its balance, and the first five or six people all lost their hand holds and dropped into the ditch, which was just like the nightmare that Kong Xuan had on the afternoon of October 23.  Chaos rules on the water.  People began to scream.

By the time that the human chain broke up, Gong Xiangtao had returned to shore already.  He jumped into the water again.  But he quickly lost his strength.  Then Kong Xuan grabbed his arm.

At more than 100 meters away to the east, the winter swimmer Lu Dezhong took a drag on his cigarette and then heard screams from the direction of the river dam.  He looked towards the river and saw eight or nine people struggling in the water.  He immediately yelled into the club house, "People are in the water!"  The three began to sprint towards the bar.  Lu Dezhong grabbed a lifesaving buoy.

"The entire rescue process took 5 minutes."  Han Deyuan said.  He made contact with a male student in the water, held him under his right arm and swam towards the shore.  He made contact with another student and he held this one under his left arm.  So now he left with kicking his two feet.  His body began to sink and he thought that he was not going to hold up.  At that moment, Lu Dezhong threw his lifesaving buoy over.  With the held of the lifesaving buoy, he reached the side of Chen Xuande's boat.  He was also pulled up by Chen Xuande.

Kong Xuan did not remember which old man thrust her into the hands of Li Like.  The students on shore formed a new and shorter human chain with Li Like in front.

Five minutes later, nobody else could be seen on the river surface.  The elderly Yang Tianlin and Lu Dezhong were near total exhaustion and laid motionless on the beach.  This team of winter swimmers with an average age of 55 years had rescued six university students.

The class monitor Jiang Menglin wearing pink plastic glasses ran over to tell Han Deyuan that three more persons were still in the water.

The missing people were confirmed to be: Chen Jishi, He Dongxu and Fang Zhao.

"Three bodies.  I retrieved all of them."  The body retriever Wang Shouhai remembered.  "The first one wore red clothing, the second one wore white clothing, the third one wore blue clothing."  "Red clothes" was Chen Jishi.  "White clothes" was Fang Zhao.  "Blue clothes" was He Dongxu.  Their young brave lives were swallowed up by the river.  "On that afternoon, hope became smaller and smaller like a knife paring down a carrot."  Many days later, Kong Xuan and Jiang Menglin admitted that on the afternoon they had emotionally gotten the rescue and the retrieval confused on the afternoon of October 24. 

"The water temperature was very low.  Anyone not used to winter swimming will quickly lose their physical ability."  Winter swimming team member Lu Dezhong recalled.  The cruel reality is that Fang Zhao, Chen Jishi and He Dongxu sank to the bottom of the frigid river within five minutes.  "Rescue" was meaningless.  According to the understanding of the fishermen and winter swimmers, rescue had become "retrieval."

"But those female students were going berserk.  They knelt down in front of everybody to beg them to get into the water to save people."  Winter swimmer Han Deyuan recalled.

"It was like a television drama in a dream."  Kong Xuan recalled the scene.  "Nothing was real."  Kong Xuan went searching for He Dongxu and Fang Zhou on the beach (note: she did not know Chen Jishi).  She was sure that the two were hiding in order to scare her.

After coughing up some water and sand, Gong Xiangtao wanted to go back into the water.  Han Deyuan held him back.  After struggling for a while, both were exhausted.

The students came over and begged the fishermen Chen Xuande and Chen Hengyun.  But they refused.  "We can only save those on the water."  Chen Xuande said.  "We do not have the equipment to retrieve from under the water.  Even if we had the equipment, we cannot do so."

Facing the reporter, these two fishermen who have little education found it very difficult to explain the dilemma that day.  They kept repeating: One of them is old, has a hip injury and dares not enter the water; the other does not know how to swim; it was so cold that day so a person will die within five minutes; they don't have the right to retrieve bodies under the water.

It is not hard to imagine that Chen Xuande and Chen Hengyun were unable to explain to the distressed female students in this situation filled with chaos and despair.

When the fishermen refused, the female students yelled: "If you won't save them, we will save them ourselves" and attempted to jump into the river.  Yang Tianlin and other stopped them.

Their hopes were eroded one cut at a time.  The Marine Affairs Bureau, the Yangtze River Public Security Bureau and the Yangtze River Shipping Transportation Police all came and left.  They said that "they didn't have the equipment" and "they didn't know how to retrieve bodies."  The student Gao Yang called the emergency phone numbers 110, 119 and 120 in the first instance.

The only ones who came to try to retrieve the bodies was the fire department.  One fireman tied a rope to his waist and dived into the water without any more equipment.  Several minutes later, the fireman could not cope with the cold and the firemen withdrew.

For retrieving three bodies, the body retriever Wang Shouhai earned 530 yuan.  The body retrieval team boss Chen Bo gave the 8 body retrievers a total of 4,000 yuan.

Previously, the body retrieval team boss Chen Bo discussed the price with the Yangtze University teachers underneath a sun umbrella on the sand bar.  The Yangtze University teacher recalled, "There was no much room for discussion."  The price for retrieving bodies was "fixed" and the "discussion" ended quickly.  The cost per body was 12,000 yuan.  It was cash up front.

The teachers and the students did not carry a lot of cash on them.  They put together 4,000 yuan which they gave to Chen Bo.  With Chen Bo's permission, Wang Shouhai and other began to search.  "Red clothing" Chen Jishi's body was retrieved at around 3:30pm.  Half an hour later, "white clothing" Fang Zhou was also found.

This was when the famous Internet photo was taken.  Wang Shouhai was standing in the front of the boat.  He was bringing the body of Fang Zhao towards the shore.  In the photo, Wang Shouhai raised his right hand as if he was saying something to someone on shore.  But he has no recollection whatsoever about the meaning of that hand gesture, or even having made that gesture at all.

Not a single student that day can recall or confirm that the body retriever was negotiating prices with them while holding the rope that was tied to the body.

But Wang Shouhai did not know that underneath the sun umbrella on the sand bar behind him, the body retrieval team boss Chen Bo was getting into a dispute with the Yangtze University students.  When the remaining 32,000 yuan did not show up after the first 4,000 yuan was handed over, Chen Bo refused to work.  According to the "pre-agreed conditions," they will only work after getting the cash.

When Chen Bo couldn't get the money, he called Wang Shouhai to tell him to stop.  After leaving the body of Fang Zhao by the shore, Wang Shouhai and others steered the boats towards the sand bar.  They squatted on their boats and smoked cigarettes while they waited for further instructions from their boss Chen Bo.

The retrieval work stopped.  Half an hour later, the money was delivered.  Chen Bo ordered Wang Shouhai to start searching again.  At 5pm, "blue clothes" He Dongxu was the last body to be be retrieved and brought ashore.

At 330pm, after the the first body was retrieved, fishermen Chen Xuande and Chen Hengyun returned in their boat to their homes in Buhe town.  They did not know that the charges of "rather see people die than render help" and "retrieve only the dead but not the living" would fall upon them.

According to Wang Shouhai, Chen Bo's "Jingzhou city Yangtze River Salvaging Limited Company" controls all body retrievals in the Jingzhou section.  Usually, Chen Bo calls his elder brother Chen Xing who is responsible for calling in the workers and finding the equipment.  "The salvaging company has neither boats nor hooks, but Chen Bo has connections."  Wang Shouhai said.

A single body can bring in an income of 12,000 yuan or more.  The body retrieval team boss Chen Bo and the winter swimming team had many arguments before.  Winter swimming team member Ke Lisha who holds the lifesaving record said that Chen Bo had warned them: "Do not mess with my money-making ways."

Chen Xuande, Chen Hengyun and other fishermen told the Southern Weekend reporter that Chen Bo had warned them not to retrieve any bodies in the Jinzhou section or "else I will smash your boats and burn your fishing nets."  They decided not to participate in the body retrieval but they were unable to avoid their boat being smashed and their fishing net being burnt anyway.

Around October 28, there was an Internet post which claimed the fishermen at the scene refused to render help (Nearby Fishing Boat Refused To Save Drowning Students  ChinaSMACK).  Subsequently, the media reported that the fishermen would rather see people die than help them.

"I saw the fishermen use bamboo poles to help my fellow students."  University student Li Like confirmed.  Li Like and Han Deyuan confirmed each other.  "The fishing boat owner really helped us."

The Yangtze University publicity department said that information from the students showed that six people got back on shore through the fishing boat.  The people on the fishing boat therefore participated in the rescue.

At 10am on October 28, the memorial service for the three university students began.  The principal leaders of Jinzhou leaders attended.  Several tens of thousands of Jingzhou citizens came to the memorial hall.

Four hours later, Chen Xuande and his wife took their old, beaten fishing boat to sell fish in Baota Bay.  "As soon as the boat docked, several persons came onto my boat and gave me three slaps in the face."  70-year-old Chen Xuande said.  Afterwards, the men tried to drag the fishing net ashore.  His wife tried to defend the fishing net.  Several middle-aged women came and hauled the fishing net as well as Chen's wife shore.  The terrified Chen Xuande did not even remember to explain.  Actually he did not even know what was happening until someone cursed him: "How dare someone who refused to help the dying dare to sell fish in Jingzhou!"

A man with spectacles brought out a match and was ready to set fire to the fishing net.  The anchor was also tossed into the river.  Afterwards bricks and rocks came flying.  Chen Xuande quickly raised anchor and left.

After Chen Xuande and his wife got beaten, Chen Hengyun does not plan to sell fish in Jingzhou this year.  This means that this landless fisherman has almost no means of living left.

Twenty-four hours after Chen Xuande and his wife were beaten, the Hubei province Citizens for Justice Foundation decided to give the 15 university students and Lu Dezong, Han Deyuan and Yang Tianlin honorary certificates as heroes.  They held a press conference to issue award and compensation money.  Statues of the three deceased students are being planned.

After many attempts, the body retrieval team's boss Chen Bo still refused to be interviewed by the Southern Weekend reporter.  His last statement was: "I am traveling and I will not be home for a while."

(Tianya Forum via Hecaitou's blog)  Death as a business.  By "A Good Person 1988"  October 6, 2009.

I live in the Jingti district below the river dam which is less than 100 meters away from the spot where the three university students died.  I have more than 15 years of swimming experience in that area.  I swam there every day without exception during summer vacation.  I even went there in the rain, including the time when there was a flood in 1998.

When I saw that Internet criticisms of the low quality of the citizens for not rendering help, I had to write this essay.  I base this upon my 15 years of personal experience.  I did not personally witness this event, but I have seen several hundred similar incidents in the Baota river area.  I am not exaggerating.

The Yangtze River flows from west to east.  Due to the presence of the Ten Thousand Year Precious Tower, the Baota River was not completely altered when the course of the Yangtze River was changed.  So this is like an independent internal river.  When the west-to-east Yangtze River meets the Ten Thousand Year Previous Tower, it changes direction and goes from east-to-west.  There is a big eddy of about 300 meters in radius near Baota River where the incident took place.

These are the facts.  When I enter the river, the current runs from left to right.  After I get out of the Baota area, the current runs from right to left.  Under such circumstances, even the best swimmers will not be able to discern the problems while trying to save someone.  My personal experience before I was twenty years old is that there was no way to get back once I was washed beyond the Ten Thousand Year Precious Tower.  I had to listen to the advice of the veterans to follow the current of the Yangtze River and then swim back.  Otherwise, I can only say that God created you and he is ready to take you back.  I may not be very skilled, and that is why I have never been able to swim back directly over the more than two past decades.

I am telling you about the risk associated with trying to rescue people in this area.

Next, I want to talk about the human factors.  People who live by the Yangtze River (mainly those around Baota) will educate their children: "Why you see someone fall into the river, do not try to rescue them or else you will die too."  Is this very cruel?  No, this is just stating the facts.  How many people drown on the Baota side each year?  In the newspapers and on television?  In Baidu?  Look it up!  About more than 20?  Let me tell you, I see bodies retrieved every day during summer vacation, sometimes as many as four or five per day.  The worse case was a father trying to save his child; a grandmother with two grandchildren; and another who came down from upstream.  Therefore, I can only laugh about this figure of 20 plus.  Don't take it seriously.  The point here is to tell everybody about the high death rates along this section of the river.

Here is the main point.  About eight years ago, there came a group of so-called "fishermen" that we are now talking about.  They began as fishermen but they became salvagers later.  Around 2000, the price for retrieving a body was around 2,500 to 3,000 yuan, but sometimes as cheap as 2,000 yuan.  I am sure that they are not from Shashi because their accents are different (I have chatted with them).  At first, they only retrieved dead bodies.  They had two small boats.

Later on, I was trying to save a person along with the members of the winter swimming team.  I swam out quickly and the boats also moved out.  I thought that they were getting ready to pick up the bodies after people die (at the time, they had already developed the slogan: "We retrieve dead people only but we don't save live people").  We did not want to say anything to them because we can't expect everybody in society to be like Lei Feng in spite of my personal misgivings.

But it was disappointing that the route of their boat coincided with my route.  So I had to circle around the boat and swam against the tide.  By the time that I reached the drowning person, I had lost two-thirds of my body strength.  I tossed the lifesaving buoy over (I always bring a lifesaving buoy made out of a car tire tube attached to my body by a rope whenever I swim on the Yangtze River).  The drowning person saw me and reached out to grope at me blindly.  He got a hold of my neck.  So I took in water and I almost went to see the Lord.  Finally, I was able to come back alive thanks to my lifesaving buoy.  Otherwise, this would be the second year memorial service for me.  And you would have heard about me earlier as a "hero."

There are two summary points.  Firstly, those fishermen are really good in mathematics and fluid mechanics.  It is a shame that they are not with the Chinese Academy of Science.  Secondly, I will not repeat this stupid act again.  Thankfully, God did not summon me to accompany him this time.  I really am not confident to see the sun the next day.  That time, I rescued a 14-year-old person who gave me such a "devastating" hold.  I was really scared.

So I hope that those people who denounce the people of Shashi for not helping should know that it is not true that nobody offers help.  If nobody offered help, the number of deaths would be doubled at least according to my conservative personal estimate.

The most important point is the nonsense about the so-called "dark secrets" in those Internet posts.  Let me tell you what the real "dark secrets" are.

After the person falls into the water, the "fishermen" will become active immediately.  Their boats start moving and then they will prevent your rescue effort by estimating where your route will be -- aren't they indirectly murdering people?  Unfortunately, those are the facts.

When a drowning person begins to sink, they will go near the person and use the net to capture the person.  As a result, the person will be dragged to the back of the boat.  At that instant, the person may regain consciousness.  But under the heavy weight of the iron hook and the fishing net (and this is not a small fishing net), the person will not be able lift his head above the water.  From the angle of medical science, the person can be revived even if he is still unconscious.  So this is a case of murder.  However, it is hard to procure the evidence.  Therefore, the judicial process cannot be initiated.  By the time that the family members show up to beg them to retrieve the body, they will concentrate on discussing the price.  They don't worry about having to retrieve the body because it is already behind the boat.  You must accept that price.  Afterwards, they will bring the boat around once and come back to tell you that they have found the body and you must pay.  You will see a dead person who either really drowned or was caused to drown by the dragging process.  Now that is the real dark secret.  This is the reason why so many people cannot save a few people.  Even though the rescue could have been effected in three minutes, it could not be completed 15 minutes later.  Finally, sometimes a rescuer dies unluckily too so that the rescuer and the rescued all die.

(  October 29, 2009.

Salvage company boss counting the money before issuing order
(New Express)

(Southern Metropolis Daily)

Our reporter interviewed the manager and legal representative Xia Bing of the Jingzhou City Baling Salvaging Services Limited Company.  According to him, Chen Bo did not realized that the three university students were hero rescuers when he demanded money to retrieve their bodies.  "If we had known that they were heroes at the time, we would have donated the money immediately.  We made a mistake.  After we took the money, people said that they were heroes.  By that time it was too late.  Such is public opinion!"

As to the position of "No money, no retrieval," Xia Bing denied it.  He insisted that money is paid only after the body is recovered.

Once it was realized that there was no possibility that the students can be saved, people counted on the salvagers to retrieve the body.  At that moment, Chen Bo appeared.  He is an employee of the only salving company in Jingzhou city, the Jingzhou City Baling Salvaging Services Limited Company.  He arrived and made calls on his mobile phone.  After several dozen minutes, two boats appeared.  According to informed persons, these were salvage boats whose workers have retrieved bodies on many occasions.

Chen Bo began to negotiate prices with the Yangtze University teachers and leaders.  Actually, the price is fixed: 12,000 yuan by day, 18,000 yuan by night.  Cash first, body next.

The students gave their mobile phones, wallets, bank cards and everything else, and they got down on their knees to beg the boaters to salve(retrieve).  This was the so-called "students begging the fishing boats" scene on the Internet.  But Chen Bo and his people were implacable.  They insisted that the money must be delivered first.  This was more than one hour after Chen Jishi, He Dongxu and Fang Zhao had fallen into the water.

The Yangtze University teachers and leaders hied back and forth and came up with more than 10,000 yuan.  The salvaging work began.  In less than 30 minutes, the body of Chen Jishi was found not more than 5 meters from one of the boats.  Then He Dongxu was found.  But the salvaging work stopped.  Chen Bo said: "Not enough money.  The other one will be retrieved only after all the money has been paid."

Xia Bing explained to the reporter: "This is like buying chewing gum.  Do you have to pay to buy chewing gum?  You can't say that you don't have to pay, right?"

According to information obtained at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Jingzhou city, the Baling Salving Company was registered on June 23, 2008.  It is the only salvaging company registered at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and therefore it owns an absolute monopoly in Jingzhou city.  No matter what, this company filed that its total income in 2008 was 15,500 yuan, with a profit of 965.58 yuan.

Here are the Chinese-language television reports: