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Car owner rewards bike crash teenager's honesty

By Qi Xin in Zhengzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-15 07:33

Honesty is the best policy, or so the old saying goes, and that has certainly proved to be the case for one high-school student in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province.

When Chen Yifan crashed his bicycle into a parked BMW on the evening of Feb 4, the 17-year-old could have just picked himself up and rode away.

Nobody had seen him hit the luxury car and the damage he had caused - a broken wing mirror and a 20-centimeter-plus scratch - would surely be expensive to fix.

But instead of running away, Chen wrote a letter of apology and stuffed the envelope with 311 yuan ($45) - all the money he had from working part-time at a local barbecue joint during the winter vacation.

"I am sorry I damaged your parked BMW with my bicycle, I feel very sad," he wrote.

"I have left all the money I just earned as compensation. If it is not enough, then I am really sorry."

When the car's owner, 52-year-old Xue Zhanmin, discovered the damage the next morning, he was outraged. "I was wondering who would do such a thing. How terrible it was!" he said.

But Xue's attitude changed when he spotted the note, tucked inside the car's door handle, and began to read.

"I read the letter again and was moved by the student's courage and honesty," he said.

"Everyone makes mistakes, but what's most important is whether or not you take responsibility for those mistakes."

Xue resolved to return the money, but Chen had not left his name on the note, fearing the retribution that might rain down upon him if the car owner ever discovered who he was.

He had mentioned his part-time job, however, giving Xue just enough information to begin his search.

So the businessman, who works in Shaoxing, Zheijiang province, and was only home for the Spring Festival holiday, approached the police and told them his plan.

Instead of pressing charges, he requested that the officers help him track down Chen so that he could reward his honesty.

It took a few days, but by consulting surveillance footage, the police were able to ascertain Chen's place of work and approached his employer on Feb 10.

When she learned what had happened, Chu Xiaofang, Chen's mother, offered to compensate Xue for all his losses, but the offer was refused.

Instead, Xue said he would give Chen 10,000 yuan to subsidize his further education. He appreciated the boy's honesty and wanted to encourage him to continue making the right decisions in life, he said.

Chu, the mother, said Xue's reaction was sure to have a positive effect on her son. "The accident was my son's fault, but I was relieved to hear he had a sense of responsibility," she said. "He told me that, in future, he will do his best to also reward the kindness of strangers."

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