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Asiana crash aftermath video shows firefighters warned about teen

Source: Reuters - Wed, 15 Jan 2014 23:27 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Laila Kearney

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Firefighters responding to an Asiana Airlines plane that crash-landed in San Francisco in 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.

Ye Mengyuan, a 16-year-old passenger from China, survived the initial impact of the July 6 crash only to be struck and killed by an emergency vehicle as she lay near the wreckage of the first fatal commercial airplane crash in the United States since February 2009.

The newly released footage has reignited controversy over Ye's death, which a California prosecutor said was accidental and that the girl's body was hidden by foam on the runway when she was struck after the crash, which killed three people and injured more than 180.

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 without no foam nearby. Another video shows a firefighter flagging down a fire truck headed toward 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. About 15 minutes later, Ye was run over, CBS reported.

Cameras mounted on the helmet and truck of first responders captured the footage. 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 new videos.

According to the family's 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 attorney Justin Green told CBS that the family is 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 close of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation before commenting on the case.

"The NTSB investigation is still ongoing, and we're being fully cooperative with that," fire department Mindy Talmadge said. (Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)

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