It can take days for a near-death event to sink in

Updated: 2013-07-15 10:54

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)

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It can take days for a near-death event to sink in

Parents of a Chinese high school student who died in the Asiana Flight 214 crash-landing on July 6 in San Francisco International Airport mourn their daughter during a prayer service held in the Bay Area on Saturday. Chen Gang for China Daily

For Chinese passengers Xu Da and his family, the best thing that's happened since surviving the Asiana Flight 214 crash in San Francisco is his son - who exhibited some psychological trauma for a while - not being afraid to board an airplane anymore.

"I am so glad," Xu said. "My son had a great time at Disneyland today. He played on a motion simulator called Star Tour twice. It looks like sitting in an aircraft cabin and he showed some fear at first, but then he was fine with it."

Xu had brought his wife and son to tour the US. They were not seriously injured in the crash and are continuing their vacation.

However, Zhang Yuan, who was on the Asiana Flight 214 with her husband, 12-year-old daughter as well as the family of three of her brother's, was clearly under great stress in the Crowne Plaza near San Francisco International Airport.

She is deeply worried that the folks from Asiana Airlines and charity groups might leave them alone soon. "We want medical treatment and we have no friends and relatives here. No one is taking care of us," said Zhang, from Nanjing in eastern China's Jiangsu province.

She said they had contacted Asiana, hoping to get a hotel room with a kitchen but has never heard back.

Li Hongqin, a surviving teacher of Taiyuan No 5 Middle School, told China Daily she has been comforting her students through the week and some of them were beginning to feel distressed two days after the accident.

"We felt everything was fine on the first day after the accident, but bruises began to appear two and three days later," she said.

"When the crash happened, the announcements by the flight attendants were only in Korean and I couldn't tell what had happened and how we were supposed to evacuate at first," she said.

She jumped onto the escape soft ladder after another passenger who understands Korean yelled at her in English "follow me"!

"The trauma associated with this type of event is very significant. Every person who survived must be thinking 'I almost died', and they will be very affected by the crash," Brian Alexander, a lawyer with Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, told China Daily.

He said post-traumatic stress disorder results from both a physical and emotional event in a way that the memory of the event can be triggered again and again by daily moments of fear, stress or anxiety.

"In whiplash events like this one, the pain and debilitation of a back injury can sometimes take weeks to manifest itself," he said. "So it is very important for the passengers to seek treatment with a professional caregiver for both the psychological trauma as well as minor physical injuries."

(China Daily USA 07/15/2013 page2)