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Netizens mourn sudden death of star, seek answers
 updatetime:2019-11-28 19:29:35   View:0 Source:chinadaily.com.cn


A scene from Shanghai Fortress features Chinese-Canadian actor Godfrey Gao, who plays the military leader of an elite unit resisting an alien invasion. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese-Canadian actor and model Godfrey Gao died of cardiac arrest after collapsing while filming a TV reality show in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang province, on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old was on the set of Chase Me, a competitive sports reality show on Zhejiang Television.


A screen capture of a statement released by  Chase Me on Nov 27. [Photo/Official Sina Weibo account of Chase Me]

A statement from the program released at 12:23 am said Gao had collapsed while filming in early morning, and died at the hospital after doctors tried for more than two hours to save his life. It also stated that Gao received immediate first aid from medical staff members on location before he was rushed to the hospital.


A statement released by Jetstar Entertainment, Gao's management company. [Photo/Official Sina Weibo account of Jetstar Entertainment]

His management company Jetstar Entertainment said in a statement posted on Weibo at 11:46 on Wednesday that Gao was declared dead at the hospital.

Chase Me, a reality program that began airing on Nov 8, invites famous figures to run in a city late at night with a group of followers chasing after them.


Godfrey Gao runs while filming Chase Me on Nov 27. [Photo/Sina Weibo account of Sina Entertainment]

"Breaking physical limits" is the program's major selling point. Participants are often asked to conquer blockbuster stunt-like and very stamina-demanding exercises, such as climbing a 70-meter-high building and swinging between adjacent building tops while hanging on a rope.

Aside from Gao, Hong Kong actor William Chan, rising star Huang Jingyu, as well as many others (who are not professional athletes) have taken part in the show. Former Olympic gymnastic champion Li Xiaopeng and boxing champion Zou Shiming have also participated, and have been seen breathing from an oxygen tank out of exhaustion.

Gao was scheduled to be the best man for a friend's wedding two days after the filming.


Godfrey Gao. [Photo/Official Sina Weibo account of Godfrey Gao]

After news of Gao's death broke out, comments went viral on Chinese social media. Some questioned whether appropriate care was given to Gao when damage was still reversible, whether entertainment programs take safety seriously, especially those involving such intensive activities, and whether it is "reasonable" for amateurs to participate in such extremely physically demanding program.

Netizen Li Miaowen-Zhao Kexin, also an endocrinology doctoral candidate at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, wrote that Zhejiang TV lacked "medical common sense", a comment that became most popular under a thread on Gao's death on Zhihu, a widely popular question-and-answer platform.

"It happened at one or two in the morning, right after midnight, when the human body temperature is at the lowest, and numerous bodily functions, including nervous responsiveness, joint reflexes and functions of the heart and the lungs are also at their lowest active level. Isn't running at this time of the hour equivalent to self-harm? Doesn't Zhejiang TV have any medical common sense?" The doctoral candidate added.

Writer Cai Jiangzhou said Zhejiang TV should be held responsible for Gao's death because the program was too physically demanding.

"Even we ordinary people avoid doing exercises after midnight," he said in a story published in his WeChat public account.


A screen capture of a statement released by Zhejiang Television on Nov 27. [Photo/Official Sina Weibo account of Zhejiang Television]

In a follow-up statement released by Zhejiang Television at 22:07 pm Wednesday, the network said Gao's family arrived in Ningbo last night and the producers of Chase Me were working with them, as well as Gao's management, to make the necessary arrangements.

The statement restated that Gao received immediate first aid after he collapsed on the scene, and was rushed to the hospital as soon as possible. It also said that the network was "deeply regretful and sorry for this irreparable accident and the serious consequences it poses," and that the network was willing to bear the corresponding responsibilities.

"We will sternly reflect on the causes and thoroughly examine each and every step involved in filming of the program, so as to better ensure safety on scene," the statement added.

But the follow-up statement failed to soothe the anger of commentators, with many calling the case not just an accident, but an epitome of showbiz gone wild.

"Don't just say 'take care of your health', as if it was his fault! Because it was not! Don't only think about the individual when accidents occur, because there is a limit on how much an individual can do to protect him or herself. We need to ask, whether physical tests were conducted prior to filming? Were stringent physical examinations carried out? Was the working schedules arranged reasonably? And whether there were comprehensive first-aid measures?" Qiaomaichen, a Weibo blogger wrote.

According to the National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, there are roughly 550,000 heart-related sudden deaths every year in China.

"Only a few simple pressing motions can 'revive' the patient from death. But the vast majority don't know anything about CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). When faced with emergency, they are helpless," said Chen Lijuan, associate chief physician at the cardiovascular department of Zhongda Hospital affiliated to Southeast University.


AED device. [Photo/Xinhua]

The incident also raised wider awareness on the availability of AED (automated external defibrillator) in public spaces. AEDs are portable electronic devices that can act as immediate first aid care for life-threatening cardiac complications, before professional medical practitioners arrive on the scene. They are designed to be used by non-medical professionals as a first-step care.

According to a report by The Beijing News, China began placing AEDs in public spaces in 2006, when 11 AEDs were placed at the Beijing Capital International Airport. Up to March, 2019, Beijing has roughly 150 AEDs in public spaces, in which 70 are at the airport.

According to New Weekly, Japan has 394 AED per 100,000 population, and the US has 317 per 100,000 population. In China, the figure is 0.2.

"For cardiac arrest, immediate first aid is key. If you miss the 'golden four minutes', even the Gods can't help," wrote Li Miaowen-Zhao Kexin.

The 35-year-old Gao, also known as Godfrey Tsao, was born in Taiwan and grew up in Canada. He first caught the publics eye as a fashion model. In 2011, Gao became the first Asian model to be signed by Louis Vuitton, and he played the role of Magnus Bane in 2013 Hollywood action film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. He became popular in 2016 when he starred in Remembering Lichuan, a television adaptation of a romance novel.


A screen capture of a post made by director Chen Mingzhang, who worked with Gao on Remembering Lichuan. [Photo/Official Sina Weibo account of Chen Mingzhang]

"Farewell, my beloved Wang Lichuan ... I will never, never, never, ever move on..." wrote Chen Mingzhang, director of Remembering Lichuan.

Web Editor:MXJ