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Asiana crash rescuer saw girl before she was run over

By Sudhin Thanawala

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:25 a.m. HST, Jan 16, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO » Video from the helmet camera of a firefighter responding to the crash landing of an Asiana Airlines flight in San Francisco shows at least one rescuer was aware someone was on the ground outside the aircraft and even warned a colleague. Yet two fire trucks subsequently ran over an injured passenger.

The video, first aired by CBS News on Tuesday, shows the girl, 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan, lying in the grass before she was struck, according to an attorney for her family. A coroner concluded she was alive at the time and died when she was later hit by a fire truck.

In the video, a firefighter with a helmet camera tells the driver of a fire truck that there's a person in front of him. A fire truck-mounted camera shows a firefighter directing the truck away from the person.

What's not clear from the video is why rescuers didn't try to move or clearly mark the presence of the person on the ground during the chaotic aftermath of the July 6 crash at San Francisco International Airport.

Shortly after the crash, rescue officials confirmed that one of the plane crash victims was run over by a fire truck. Firefighters told investigators they assumed the girl was dead and hurried on toward the damaged aircraft, according to documents released by the NTSB.

"This is not a matter of us being careless or callous," Assistant Deputy Chief Dale Carnes told the federal safety board last month. "It was the fact we were dealing with a very complex environment."

The video, which was released to The Associated Press on Wednesday by attorneys for the girl's family, reflected much of what officials have said, only with more detail.

About 15 minutes after the driver of the fire truck was alerted to the girl's presence, the video shows that same truck running over her, according to CBS. Footage of her being run over was not aired in the CBS News broadcast.

The helmet camera shows another truck driving over her minutes after that, according to CBS News, which said it obtained the video from a person close to Yuan's family.

The San Francisco Chronicle first reported on the video's content, but did not release the video publicly.

It's still unknown how Yuan got out of the plane. Interviews for an ongoing National Traffic Safety Board investigation found Yuan was covered with foam and struck twice.

"At least five firefighters knew of her presence before she was covered in foam. Nobody examined her, nobody touched her, nobody protected her, moved her or did anything to take her out of harm's way, and then they abandoned her there," said Anthony Tarricone, an attorney for Yuan's family, which has filed a legal claim against the City of San Francisco.

San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said on Wednesday she could not comment on the video because of the pending litigation, though she confirmed there were videos and a few still photographs of the scene that were taken by firefighters and turned over to the department. The videos and photographs were given to attorneys who have filed lawsuits representing victims of the crash, Talmadge said.

San Francisco's fire chief, Joanne Hayes-White, explicitly banned firefighters from using helmet-mounted video cameras after images from such a recording of the Asiana Airlines crash scene first became public. Hayes-White told the San Francisco Chronicle she was concerned about the privacy of victims and firefighters.

The department subsequently said it was reviewing that policy.

In all, 304 of the 307 people aboard the Asiana flight survived after the airliner slammed into a seawall at the end of a runway during final approach for landing.

The impact ripped off the back of the plane, tossed out three flight attendants and their seats, and scattered pieces of the jet across the runway as it spun and skidded to a stop.

Yuan was one of three Chinese teens who died; one died during the crash, and another died later in the hospital.

Associated Press writer Paul Elias contributed to this report.

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Sandybeach wrote:
Helmet cams a good idea. Can be helpful in post evaluation and critique of first responders. Why would the fire chief explicitly ban helmet cams. After every major event there is an after action report. Helmet cams can only aid in that evaluation.
on January 16,2014 | 05:42AM
krusha wrote:
Somebody should have carried that girl out of the way right away or at least put a big cone next to her. Seems like they treated that girl like a rock lying in a field.
on January 16,2014 | 05:51AM
HiNaihe808 wrote:
The firemen were callous and careless. You don't drive over dead bodies. The fire trucks are not that big that you cannot move around a corpse. No excuses. Now that they're caught, the fire chief wants to ban helmet cams.
on January 16,2014 | 06:01AM
BIG wrote:
Have you ever been in one of those fire trucks ...they are pretty big...and key words in article is "very complex environment" and "chaotic aftermath". What about the lives that these fire fighters saved
on January 16,2014 | 06:18AM
waverider808 wrote:
I understand the chaos that must have been going on but what I don't understand is why did they not render aid when she was first spotted. why did they just leave her lying there and eventually cover with foam. did they not see if she was alive from the very beginning. pretty neglectful in my books...
on January 16,2014 | 07:34AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Firefighters want to save lives. That's one reason everyone loves them. Next time you are near a crisis and someone calls 911, watch who shows up first. It won't be HPD in their shiny, souped up Mustangs, it'll be HFD in their big slow red truck.

What happened here were errors in training and scene management. The helmet cams are invaluable in improving response, and properly used, will save lives in the future.

on January 16,2014 | 08:35AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
"San Francisco's fire chief, Joanne Hayes-White, explicitly banned firefighters from using helmet-mounted video cameras after images from such a recording of the Asiana Airlines crash scene first became public. Hayes-White told the San Francisco Chronicle she was concerned about the privacy of victims and firefighters."

I gotta say chief, I'm not buying it.

Helmet cams on police and firefighters aid in accountability, avoid charges of misconduct, and confirm professionalism. In this particular case, it demonstrated what happened, what went right and went went wrong. Studying the video will help make sure this type of error doesn't happen again.

on January 16,2014 | 08:24AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Someone's head needs to roll on this. Heads have rolled for much less serious things.
on January 16,2014 | 09:04AM
entrkn wrote:
Making a bad situation worse...
on January 16,2014 | 09:11AM
paniolo wrote:
"Firefighters told investigators they assumed the girl was dead..." You cannot "assume" a person is dead unless you check, And it's disrespectful to run over a dead body anyway. They should've moved the body before moving into the area.
on January 16,2014 | 09:31AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Yes, that's what got me, too. OK, maybe they thought she was dead....so that makes it all right to run over her anyway?
on January 16,2014 | 12:34PM
nitpikker wrote:
personally i dont hold firefighters in high esteem.
on January 16,2014 | 11:50AM
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