Officials confirm girl was run over by fire truck responding to airliner crash
SAN FRANCISCO — A little girl who was aboard the Asiana Airlines flight that crash-landed died Friday, the same day that authorities confirmed one of the two Chinese 16-year-olds killed in the disaster was hit by a firetruck.
The disclosure about the teen raised the tragic possibility that she could have survived the crash only to die in its chaotic aftermath.
No one knows yet whether the two teens lived through the initial impact at the San Francisco airport. But police and fire officials confirmed that Ye Meng Yuan was hit by a firetruck racing to extinguish the blazing Boeing 777.
Her close friend Wang Linjia was among a group of passengers who did not get immediate medical help. Rescuers did not spot her until 14 minutes after the crash.
The other little girl died Friday morning. San Francisco General Hospital said she had been in critical condition since arriving Saturday after the accident. Officials did not identify the girl at the request of her parents. Her age was also withheld.
Meng Yuan's body was found covered in firefighting foam near a seawall at the edge of the runway, along with three flight attendants who were flung onto the tarmac while still buckled in their seats. Meng Yuan was not in her seat.
“The firetruck did go over the victim at least one time. Now the other question is what was the cause of death?” police spokesman Albie Esparza said. “That's what we are trying to determine.”
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said the results of his initial inquiry into the deaths would likely be released sometime next week. He would not comment on the police investigation.
Moments after the July 6 crash, while rescuers tried to help passengers near the burning fuselage, Wang Linjia and the flight attendants lay in the rubble almost 2,000 feet away. A group of survivors called 911 and tried to help them.
Members of the group — martial arts athletes and their families returning from a competition in South Korea — said that after escaping the plane, they sat with at least four victims who appeared to be seriously hurt. They believe one of them was one of the girls who died.
Cindy Stone, who was in that group, was recorded by California Highway Patrol dispatchers calling in for help: “There are no ambulances here. We've been on the ground 20 minutes. There are people lying on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries. We're almost losing a woman here. We're trying to keep her alive.”
San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said Friday that when airport personnel reached the group near the seawall, Linjia was dead.