Asiana flight 214: Firefighter's helmet cam video footage reveals how Chinese student was killed by an emergency vehicle after plane crash
Neela Debnath is a member of the Independent's online editorial team. She has an MA in Journalism (NCTJ accredited) from Brunel University. She is interested in current affairs, media and dipping into other areas of journalism.
Tuesday 06 August 2013
New footage of the Asiana plane crash in San Francisco has shed light on the death of a Chinese student accidentally killed by an emergency vehicle attending the scene.
The video obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper shows the moment 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan was run over.
Footage was captured on a helmet camera worn by one of the firefighters attending the scene and is now being investigated by authorities.
Ye Meng Yuan was hit by the vehicle after being covered in fire-retardant foam. She had been a passenger on the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on 6 July.
Rescue teams quickly responded to the scene and began spraying the area with fire-retardant foam.
Now, footage gathered from a camera affixed to a fire-fighting helmet seems to suggest that firefighters, mistaking her for dead, did not tell their supervisor that Ye Meng Yuan was still on the ground.
Firefighters Roger Phillips and Jimmy Yee said they saw the body of the teenager whilst driving a rig on the scene. They said Ye Meng Yuan had been seen lying in the foetal position, leading rescue workers to believe she was dead.
But results from the San Mateo County coroner was alive for several more minutes, until a second rig ran over her.
In the footage, fire captain Anthony Robinson can be heard briefing Battalion Chief Mark Johnson and Assistant Fire Chief Tom Siragusa who had just arrived on the scene. “All of the passengers are off the plane,” Robinson tells the two at a staging area several hundred feet away from the plane. “They just completed a secondary search. There are no passengers on the plane.”
Johnson is then put in charge of leading the rescue effort and heads towards the wreckage, where thick plumes of foam are visible.
Phillips and Yee were driving the vehicle that ran over Ye Meng Yuan and have told investigators they steered the foam-spraying rig around the girl after pointing her out to fire supervisor Robinson.
However, the footage does not show anyone informing Johnson about either a survivor or a body.
The San Francisco Chronicle has not shared the video because of the ongoing investigations but released a series of stills.
Over 180 people were injured and three were killed after the plane fell short of the runway and hit a seawall before slamming onto the ground.
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