One of two teen girls killed after plane crash may have been run over by emergency vehicle
4:40 PM, Jul 8, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco fire officials acknowledged Monday that one of their trucks responding to the Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco airport may have run over one of the two teenage girls killed in the accident.
Autopsy results determining whether her death was caused by a rescue vehicle or the plane crash were pending Monday.
"One of our fire apparatus may have come into contact with one of our two victims who was at the scene," Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said during a news conference. "I assure you we are looking closely at this."
The body of the girl who might have been struck was found on the left side of the aircraft about 30 feet away from where the Boeing 777 came to rest after it skidded down the tarmac, said San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault.
The girl was not far from an emergency slide, he said. The other body was found on the runway near where the plane's tail broke off upon impact, he said. The coroner said both girls were pronounced dead at the airport.
Foucrault said senior San Francisco Fire Department officials notified him and his staff at the crash site Saturday that one of the two Chinese girls killed in the crash 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.
The teenagers' families are expected to arrive in San Francisco on Monday, and they will receive the autopsy results before they are made public, Foucrault said.
Federal accident investigators have reviewed airport surveillance footage to see if it showed someone being struck by a fire truck on the runway and that "it wasn't conclusive," National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Deborah Hersman said Monday.
Interviews with emergency responders and especially the autopsy report are expected to bring answers, Hersman said.
"It is a very serious issue and we want to understand it," she said.
San Francisco Fire Department Assistant Deputy Chief Dale Carnes said a report that one of the first five emergency vehicles might have "come in contact" with one of the girls was made as firefighters transitioned from rescue and suppressing the fire to treating and transporting injured passengers to area hospitals.
Carnes couldn't give an exact time of the report, but said police, FBI and other officials were notified "immediately" after the firefighter at the scene reported his concerns.
Hayes-White said the five drivers of the rescue vehicles all passed drug and alcohol tests. No one has been suspended.
Chinese state media and Asiana Airlines have identified the girls as Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, students at Jiangshan Middle School in Zhejiang, an affluent coastal province in eastern China. They were part of a group of 29 students and five teachers from the school who were heading to summer camps in California, according to education authorities in China.
The group had been scheduled to arrive at the West Valley Christian Church's school in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley on Monday after spending the weekend touring the San Francisco Bay Area, school administrator Derek Swales said.
The high school and middle school students would have been taught English and American culture in the mornings and would have toured local universities and gone sightseeing in the afternoons.
Organizers of the camp had lined up host homes for the Chinese teens, Swales said.
Swales said a charter bus was heading north to pick up the teens when the crash landing occurred. He said the camp was postponed and the students will go back to their families.
Some church members have begun donating money, and church leaders were trying to figure out how to contribute to the families devastated by the crash.
"We want people to know that we care even though we have not met them," the Rev. Glenn Kirby said.
While speaking to reporters at San Francisco General Hospital on Sunday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee called the questions being raised