The city of San Francisco is contradicting a coroner’s findings that a Chinese girl survived an airliner crash in July but was run over and killed by rescuers.
The city says in a report obtained on Wednesday that 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan died when she hit the ground after the force of the impact tossed her from the Asiana jet.
The conclusion is contained in a report the city filed with the National Transportation Safety Board. City officials say it is based on NTSB reports and interviews by federal investigators, not a medical evaluation.
The report says that neither of two NTSB reports noted dust, dirt, debris or firefighting foam in the girl’s trachea or lung tissues.
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault says San Francisco’s conclusions are not accurate.
“We did our examination and we determined that the young lady was alive when she was struck by the fire trucks,” Foucrault said.
While announcing the results of his autopsy last year, Foucrault declined to go into detail on how he determined the teenager was alive before she was struck but did say there was internal haemorrhaging that indicated her heart was still beating at the time.
The city’s report is one of hundreds of documents the NTSB will review before concluding its accident investigation.
Some documents describe how after the crash, the girl was struck twice by emergency vehicles on the runway – once by a fire rig spraying foam and again 11 minutes later by a second truck that was turning around to fetch water.
Firefighters told authorities she appeared to be dead – she was covered with dust, silent, not moving – so they raced on toward the fire.
The way she died doesn’t ease the emotional trauma at the San Francisco Fire Department, where firefighters were shaken after rescuers drove over her two times, spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said on Wednesday.
“It doesn’t make it better or worse, really,” she said. “It’s just psychologically, it’s a difficult thing. Period.”