Asiana plane crash

Video shows US firefighters were warned about girl air crash victim

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 11:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 11:04pm

Firefighters responding to an Asiana Airlines plane crash in San Francisco last July were warned about the presence of a teenage passenger who was later fatally struck by an emergency vehicle, new video footage of the aftermath shows.

Footage from the helmet of a rescuer appears to show emergency teams failing to assist Ye Mengyuan , a 16-year-old passenger from Zhejiang , who survived the initial impact of the July 6 crash only to be struck and killed by an emergency vehicle.

One video, first released by CBS News late on Tuesday, shows a firefighter pointing to Ye, who appeared motionless in a patch of dry grass with no foam nearby. Another video shows a firefighter flagging down a fire truck headed towards the plane.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop, stop, stop!" the firefighter shouted before the driver stopped and opened his door to talk. "There's a body right there, right in front of you," the firefighter said.

Then a group of rescuers are seen running past the girl without stopping to check her vital signs. About 15 minutes later, Ye was run over, CBS reported.

Firefighters told crash investigators that they assumed the girl was dead and hurried on towards the damaged aircraft, according to documents released last month by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The footage has reignited controversy over Ye's death. A California prosecutor said it was accidental and that the girl's body was hidden by foam on the runway when she was struck. Three people died and more than 180 were injured.

CBS reported that the videos were obtained from a source close to Ye's family.

San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe declined in October to file charges against the first responders, saying that the girl's body had been covered with firefighting foam when she was hit and that the crash aftermath was "dramatically chaotic".

This month, Ye's family filed a wrongful death civil claim against the city of San Francisco, alleging gross negligence. The district attorney's office declined to comment on the case or the videos.

According to the claim, two San Francisco firefighters saw Ye lying on the ground and alerted a supervisor, but they were instructed to move on and failed to mark her location.

Family lawyer Justin Green told CBS that the family was seeking accountability. "They want to know why weren't the firefighters trained, why weren't the supervisors certified and why hasn't the fire department come clean about what happened?"

The San Francisco Fire Department also declined to comment, saying it would wait for the end of a NTSB investigation before commenting on the case. The department has already apologised to the girl's family.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse