China / Society

Subway victim was struggling single mom

( Updated: 2014-11-17 18:28

For Pan Xiaomei, a 33-year-old single mom, Nov 6 started as a happy day, according to details of her life reported by The Beijing News on Monday.

She had sold six cell phones that day, receiving 50 yuan ($8.3) for each, and was headed home on the subway to celebrate. She never finished her journey.

At around 7 pm, Pan transferred to subway Line 5 at Huixinxijie Nankou station on her way to her home to Tiantongyuan station.

Records show the passenger volume on Line 5 that day at nearly one million. In total, Beijing Subway had 9.3 million passengers on its 14 subway lines on the day.

Pan, one of the million commuters, was pushed along by the crowd while boarding, becoming trapped between the train and the safety door. She fell on the track as the train pulled out of the station.

After a series of sickening thuds against the screen doors, the moving train was stopped. Severely injured, Pan died after being sent to a hospital.

In the days since the accident, Pan has become a tragic symbol of a segment of society struggling to adjust to urban life.

Pan, from Pingquan city in North China's Hebei province, had worked as a sales consultant for over 10 years. Her company paid her a 3,000 yuan basic monthly salary with commissions. She worked an hour away from her home in Tiantongyuan.

Tiantongyuan, a sprawling residential district, is regarded as a good place to start a life in Beijing due to its cheap rent and convenient transportation.

According to Pan's father, her home was less than six square meters, the bed taking up most of the space.

Pan lived a frugal life, using her pay to support her family and her 7-year-old son who lives with his grandparents in Pingquan. In fact, her boy was reportedly her only motive to stay in Beijing and seek a better future.

On a typical night, Pan would have returned to her neighborhood and set up a stand to sell socks for a few hours to supplement her income. She had dreamed of someday leaving Beijing to return home to raise her child.

Instead, her son attended his mother's funeral in Maolangou last week. Her ashes were buried in the family cornfield with no tombstone.

Back at Line 5's Huixinxijie Nankou station, the safety door has been repaired since the accident. The subway is still packed every day.


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