San Francisco plane crash: Dead Chinese teenagers Wang Linjia and Ye Minguan were at start of US college tour

Coroner orders probe to determine whether rescuers ran over one of the teenagers who died

Los Angeles

The two Chinese teenagers killed in a plane that crashed in San Francisco this weekend were school-friends travelling to the US together to visit the country’s universities.

Wang Linjia and Ye Minguan, both 16, were among 34 students from the city of Jiangshan in eastern China, whose parents had spent around $5,000 (£3,350) each to send their children on a college tour of the US. The 15-day trip, which included English lessons at a summer camp, sightseeing and visits to several California universities, was one of many similar package tours tailored to improve affluent Chinese pupils’ chances of being accepted to a US college.

Their American adventure ended in tragedy, however, when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 from Shanghai, via Seoul, crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport at around 11.30 on Saturday morning. Of the 307 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777, Wang and Ye were the only fatalities, though 182 people were taken to hospitals, at least two of whom were left paralysed with spinal injuries.

In a devastating postscript to the tragedy, it now appears that only one of the dead girls was killed in the crash itself, after being thrown from the fuselage when the plane’s tail was torn off. The other may have been struck by an emergency vehicle that raced to the scene immediately after the accident. San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said one of the two bodies, which were found approximately a mile apart, had injuries “consistent with having been run over by a vehicle”.

On Sunday it emerged that the pilot at the controls of Flight 214 was still in training to fly the 777, and had only 43 hours’ experience at the helm of the jetliner when the crash occurred. An Asiana spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times that Lee Kang-kook, who was born in 1967, had been flying in other planes for almost 20 years and was a “very experienced pilot”.

According to investigators, the 777 was well below its optimum landing speed, and at risk of stalling when Lee requested to abort the landing and make another attempt – seconds before the plane’s tail clipped the sea wall at the end of the runway.

Asked about the possibility of pilot error, National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Deborah Hersman said it was too early to rule anything out. The investigation will likely last at least a year.

The two dead teenagers were both described as excellent pupils at the formidably academic Jingshian Middle School. The Youth Times, an official newspaper in Zhejiang province, reported that Wang and Ye had been classmates and close friends for the past four years. Wang is said to have been a popular class monitor, who shone in physics. Her family’s neighbour, a Mrs Xia, said she was a diligent student who was “very keen to learn”.

Ye, meanwhile, was a strong literature and music student, who recently won a national gymnastics competition. September Mao, a fellow pupil at the school, told the paper that Ye, “loved to smile, and liked to share everything and anything that is happy”.

The parents of both girls travelled to San Francisco yesterday. Wang’s father, Wang Wensheng, told reporters at Shanghai airport shortly before his departure, “I’m going to see my daughter.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border