Video of 'chaotic' Asiana air crash rescue may point to negligence in Chinese teen's death
Footage shows rescuers knew someone was lying on the ground outside the aircraft, but was run over anyway
Video from a firefighter’s helmet camera following the crash landing of an Asiana Airlines flight in San Francisco shows rescuers were aware that Chinese teen Ye Mengyuan was on the ground outside the airplane, before she was fatally run over by a fire truck.
CBS News first aired parts of the footage showing the chaotic aftermath of the July 6 crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday night. CBS said it obtained it from a person close to the family of 16-year-old Ye.
Fifteen minutes after the driver of a fire truck was alerted to where she was, the video shows that same truck running over her, according to CBS, though footage of her being run over was not aired in CBS News’ broadcast. The helmet camera shows another truck driving over her minutes after that, according to CBS News. The San Mateo County Coroner has confirmed that Ye was killed by a fire truck.
The San Francisco Chronicle first reported on the video’s content. It is still unknown how Ye got out of the plane. Interviews for an ongoing National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) investigation found she was covered with foam and struck two times.
“At least five firefighters knew of her presence before she was covered in foam. Nobody examined her, nobody touched her, nobody protected her, moved her or did anything to take her out of harm’s way and then they abandoned her there,” said Anthony Tarricone, an attorney for Ye’s family.
Watch: CBS releases footage of the air crash aftermath
San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said on Wednesday that she could not comment on the video because of the pending litigation, though she confirmed there were a couple of videos and a few still photographs of the scene that were taken by firefighters and turned over to the department.
The videos and photographs were given to attorneys who have filed lawsuits representing victims of the crash, Talmadge said.
Firefighters told investigators they assumed the girl was dead and hurried on towards the damaged aircraft, according to documents released by the NTSB.
“This is not a matter of us being careless or callous,” San Francisco Fire Department assistant deputy chief Dale Carnes told the federal safety board last month. “It was the fact we were dealing with a very complex environment.”
San Francisco’s fire chief, Joanne Hayes-White, explicitly banned firefighters from using helmet-mounted video cameras after images from such a recording of the Asiana Airlines crash scene first became public.
Hayes-White told the San Francisco Chronicle she was concerned about the privacy of victims and firefighters.
The department subsequently said it was reviewing that policy.
In all, 304 of the 307 people aboard the plane survived after the airliner slammed into a seawall at the end of a runway during the final approach for landing.
The impact ripped off the back of the plane, tossed out three flight attendants and their seats, and scattered pieces of the jet across the runway as it spun and skidded to a stop.
Ye was one of three Chinese teens who died; one died during the crash, and another died later in the hospital.