Teen girls killed in Asiana crash in US were student leaders, close friends
Also a US coroner is conducting an autopsy to determine whether Wang Linjia or Ye Mengyuan was run over and killed by an emergency vehicle
Associated Press in Beijing and San Francisco
The two Chinese teenagers who died in an Asiana Airlines plane crash in San Francisco were student leaders who excelled in their studies and in the arts – one was a calligrapher and the other a pianist.
Wang Linjia, 16, and Ye Mengyuan, 17, were students at Jiangshan Middle School in eastern China who were travelling on a summer camp programme organised by the school to visit universities in California, state media reported on Monday.
The group included 29 students and four teachers from four schools in the city of Jiangshan. They were to visit Silicon Valley, Stanford University and University of California’s campuses in Los Angeles and Berkeley as part of an English-language programme, according to the Youth Times, an official newspaper in Zhejiang province.
Wang was class representative for three years and teachers and schoolmates described her as excelling in physics and being good at calligraphy and drawing, according to the paper.
The newspaper said a reporter visited the girl’s family at a hotel and that Wang’s mother was sitting on a bed, crying silently while her father was sitting in a chair with a blank expression.
Wang’s next-door neighbour, a woman surnamed Xia, described Wang as being quiet, courteous and diligent.
“She was very keen to learn, every time she came home she would be studying, very rarely did she go out and play,” Xia was quoted as saying. She said Wang’s father proudly displayed her calligraphy and art pieces on the walls of his office.
The other victim, Ye, also was a top student who excelled in litreature and was talented with the piano, singing and gymnastics. The Youth Times said Ye had recently won a national gymnastics competition and routinely received honours at the school’s annual speech contests.
The two girls were classmates from four years ago and became close friends, the paper said.
The girls posted their last messages on their microblog accounts on Thursday and Friday. “Perhaps time can dilute the coffee in the cup, and can polish the outlines of memory,” Wang said on Friday.
Her final message was simply the word “go”.
Of the 291 passengers onboard, 141 were Chinese. At least 70 Chinese students and teachers were on the plane heading to summer camps, according to education authorities in China.
Struck on the runway?
A US coroner said on Sunday that his office was conducting an autopsy to determine whether Wang or Ye was run over and killed by an emergency vehicle.
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said San Francisco Fire Department officials notified him and his staff at the crash site that one of the victims might have been struck on the runway.
“We were made aware of the possibility at the scene that day,” Foucrault said, adding that he did not get a thorough look at the victims on Saturday to know if they had external injuries.
One of the bodies was found on the runway near where the plane’s tail broke off upon impact, he said. The other was found on the left side of the aircraft about nine metres away from where the Boeing 777 came to rest after it skidded down the tarmac and not far from an emergency slide.
San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White had told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday that the girl found on the side of the airplane had injuries consistent with having been run over.
“As it possibly could have happened, based on the injuries sustained, it could have been one of our vehicles that added to the injuries, or another vehicle,” she said. “That could have been something that happened in the chaos. It will be part of our investigation.”
Foucrault said the autopsy, which he expects to be completed by Monday, will involve determining whether the girl’s death was caused by injuries from the crash or “a secondary incident”.
The teenagers’ families are expected to arrive in San Francisco on Monday, and they will receive the autopsy results before they are made public, he said.
The coroner said both girls were pronounced dead at the airport.