Ding Zhijian

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Ding Zhijian (丁志健 1978-2012)

Ding Zhijian (丁志健) was one of the dozens of victims who died in the catastrophic torrential rains which hit Beijing on July 21, 2012.

Ding probably suffocated to death in his locked SUV, which was trapped in the flooded Guangqumen Bridge in Beijing's Dongcheng District. He could neither open the vehicle's doors nor the top window after the engine flooded and became inoperative.

According to Qiu Yan, the widowed wife of Ding, her late husband dialed “110” (China's emergency phone number equivalent to the "911" in the United States) at around 7:40 pm but the line was busy. He then phoned his wife, who immediately set out to the scene to rescue him, but subsequently got stuck in traffic near the Tonghui River.

"I had no other choice but to run to [the scene]," Qiu told Hunan Satellite TV on Jul. 25 after her husband's funeral.

Confined to his locked car for almost three hours, Ding had probably already died or was in critical condition from lack of air in the vehicle by the time Qiu arrived.

"I arrived at the spot at around 8:10 pm to 8:20 pm and didn't see our car," Qiu said, "but I know it was there, somewhere inside the water."

By the time they pulled Ding's SUV out of water, it was already half past ten. Ding was rushed to hospital, but it was too late.

Qiu said she wouldn't have agreed to be interviewed on the program if not for vicious online rumors which questioned her husband's marital fidelity as well as his interactions with rescuers.

"My husband was out on business," Qiu said. "I didn't need to take any extra energy to explain the highly rumored 'third woman' scandal."

Born in 1978, Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, Ding was the director of the editorial department for "A A Bear" (《阿阿熊》), a children's magazine. A postgraduate of Peking University, he was both physically and mentally strong, his wife said on the program.

Qiu Yan (L) holds the portrait of Ding Zhijian, her late husband

On the program, Qiu publicly thanked Wei An, a staff member from Bank of Communications for his efforts to try to rescue Ding. Amid the torrential rain, Wei took off his shirt and tried to swim to Ding's car after hearing Qiu's desperate calling. But his efforts were thwarted by the surging floodwater.

"He accompanied me until the last moment when my husband was pulled out of the car and visited him when his body was in hospital," Qiu said, "I gave my thanks to him on Weibo (China's equivalent of Twitter), but he just replied that he can't accept it because he feels so sad that he was unable to rescue [Ding]."

According to Caijing, a Chinese financial magazine, there were three video cameras near the site of the accident of the Guangqumen Bridge, but the Dongcheng Police Bureau said no videos have been yet available to review the accident.