In Brief: Suspicious Death on the Beijing Subway

In Brief is a new category we’re adding to the blog to allow for posts about subjects that, while interesting, don’t include enough information for a full article but still exceed the capacity of our Twitter. It also has the added advantage of allowing us to update the site and still provide something interesting on days like today, when real life gets in the way of more thorough analysis.

On August 23rd at 10:47 pm, Beijing college student Ma Yue fell onto the tracks of the subway on Beijing’s Line 2, and was electrocuted — maybe. Despite the fact that the Beijing subway system is absolutely covered with surveillance cameras, Ma Yue’s family is being told there is no footage to confirm his death was an accident or a suicide, as opposed to a murder. Even more oddly, the police and the subway company claim they’re still not sure whether he died from electrocution or being run over by a train. ((I am not a forensic inspector, but it seems to me that it’s probably fairly easy to tell when someone has been hit by a train.)) Ma Yue’s mother–that’s her in the picture–rushed to the scene of the accident, but the body had already been taken to the mortuary for autopsy. Apparently, no one saw it (aside from the police and the subway company, who won’t say anything definitive.)

Also odd, his mother says, is that Ma Yue had eyesight so bad that he needed to wear glasses at all times, yet his glasses were not found at the scene, police say.

The coroner reported there was no alcohol in Ma Yue’s blood, and that he had not been physically harmed (aside from being electrocuted, or maybe being hit by a train, or both). There’s also no evidence he wanted to commit suicide. His last text, from moments before the accident–or whatever–was to his girlfriend: “I’m already at the subway station, just waiting to hop on the last train of the night and come home.” He had also told his mother he was looking forward

While it hasn’t been a huge story, various news organizations have been running pieces about it, and we’ve seen various language used to indicate what happened to the footage. The article above says the footage was “damaged” and that Ma Yue’s death is “an enigma”; other articles have said the footage is “missing” or that there was some kind of problem with the system. No one really knows what’s going on, but something is definitely up.

0 thoughts on “In Brief: Suspicious Death on the Beijing Subway”

  1. Note to the author: it’s easy to figure out when someone has been hit by a train, but it’s quite hard to clearly define a “cause of death”, especially when both may have happened at the same time while the person of interest was still alive.


  2. Out of curiosity, what’s the purpose of that gray button under every comment? It turns red when I put my cursor over it, but otherwise it doesn’t seem to do anything.


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