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Flight 214 update: Coroner trying to determine if teen passenger from China was killed after being hit by fire truck responding to jet crash.

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Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle:

An autopsy was being conducted Sunday to determine whether one of the two teenage passengers killed on the Asiana Airlines flight had been run over by a San Francisco fire rig at the crash scene.

The 16-year-old girl was found near the evacuation slide near the left wing of Asiana Flight 214 that crashed Saturday during a landing at San Francisco International Airport.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said Sunday her injuries are consistent with having been run over.

“As it possibly could have happened, based on the injuries sustained, it could have been one of our vehicles that added to the injuries, or another vehicle,” Hayes-White said. “That could have been something that happened in the chaos. It will be part of our investigation.”

Hayes-White said a runway video recording of the first seconds of the crash could help unravel what occurred. “Part of it was a pretty good vantage point,” she said.


While  federal investigators began piecing together what led to the crash, San  Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault disclosed that he was looking into  the possibility that one of the two teenage passengers who died  Saturday actually survived the crash but was run over by a rescue  vehicle rushing to aid victims as the plane burst into flames.  Remarkably, 305 of 307 passengers survived the crash and more than a  third didn’t even require hospitalization. Only a small number were  critically injured.

Foucrault,  the coroner, said senior San Francisco Fire Department officials  notified him and his staff at the crash site on Saturday that one of the  16-year-olds who was killed may have been struck on the runaway.  Foucrault said an autopsy he expects to be completed by Monday will  involve determining whether the girl’s death was caused by injuries  suffered in the crash or “a secondary incident.”

Foucrault  said one of the bodies was found on the tarmac near where the plane’s  tail broke off when it slammed into the runway. The other was found on  the left side of the plane about 30 feet away from where the jetliner  came to rest after it skidded down the runway.

KCBS Radio:

Authorities said Sunday that the girl, found near the west wing of the aircraft, suffered injuries consistent with being run over by a vehicle. She also did not suffer extensive burns.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee described the situation for first responders to the crash site as “very chaotic” with “lots of smoke” as he spoke with reporters at San Francisco General Hospital, where many of the surviving crash victims are being treated.

Lee said given that scene, it might be possible a vehicle could have run over the girl – but he said that determination would have to be made by the coroner and crash investigators.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Fire21

    I can kind of understand how that could happen when taking your eyes off of the “road” to try to see where to position your vehicle. Yet, imagine how devastating that would be for the driver!!!

  • north chief

    Prayers for the driver of the vehicle. This has happened before, approaching a burning aircraft is a very diffuclt circumstance. There is a lot of debris, people running in all directions. As soon as you begin to discharge foam on the approach, vision out the windshield goes to crap. As the foam builds up on the ground it covers whatever is there, really puts a driver in a bad way trying to get around. ARFF vehicles are designed to be very mobile, you usally can’t extinguish the fire from a fixed position. Tough situation for everyone there.

  • Sharppointy1

    I’m with north chief – I am praying for the driver of the vehicle, while trying to maintain a particle of hope that the victim wasn’t run over.
    If indeed she was run over, I hope the SFFD and the airport FD have the resources to counsel him/(her) and that the driver can accept the help offered. We all know it was not a deliberate act.

  • Dallas

    As mentioned by others this is always a risk in this type of response. Many moons ago when I operated ARFF rigs for USAF this was one of the things we were trained to think about when we approached a downed aircraft.

    When an aircraft breaks up at high speed pieces and people go all different directions and where they end up is anyone’s guess. Add the fact in this incident that you know the fuselage is occupied as you are approaching and seeing people streaming away from the aircraft it may actually be surprising that this is the only person stuck in the pandemonium.

    If you have ever rolled an ARFF vehicle into a fire (even in training) you understand how easily something like this could happen. Trying to get into to position while discharging onto the aircraft to establish a rescue/evacuation path with the smoke blowing and the foam covering your field of view is a very difficult thing.

    I really feel for the operator of the vehicle; I hope he/she comes to realize that while it is tragic that this young women was struck the operation of the vehicle in all likelihood contributed to many others surviving. Given the nature of the injuries being reported in the media I can’t see how their efforts suppressing the fire didn’t contribute to the survival of those with incapacitating injuries.

  • Anonymous

    A jet coming in for a landing is still going over 100 mph. If she was on the runway after the tail section was torn off, the chance of her being alive is very slim. Unfortunately being runover by something that size would destroy all evidence showing the real cause of death. Its like being hit by a freight train after you were beaten to death. I feel bad for the girl’s family and the apparatus driver.

  • Truckie

    I believe I remember someone mentioning that to me happening in Chalotte, NC with flight 1016 years ago. They couldn’t cleary identify what was debris and what was human coupled with a driving rain storm. If I remember correctly, the passenger was already deceased though. I don’t remember that being an issue(mental) with responding personnel. They had to get close because it was a survivable crash. Either way, a tough deal. IMO, the girl was probably already gone by the time the fire department arrived. I’m making that statement based on the video of the acutual crash. That was a very hard hit and if she was already ejected after impact, survivability was more than likely nil. Either way, I’m praying for the responders.

  • Eric

    Although there were 300-some odd other survivors of this horrific crash. (Miracle)…who’s to say she didn’t ride down the safety chute, injured of course and lay incapacitated(still alive) while unfortunately the ARFF vehicle passed over her and she succumbed to injury from that.

  • http://none Jerry

    I was a paramedic for many years. If you are trained right, this will not happen, I think SFO s training should be well looked into, I am sure it is short some place. Someone should be held responsible.

  • north chief

    Jerry, you have to have been in this type situation to understand what those guys were facing. Yes training is important. Not every situation follows lesson plans. People at auto accidents have been struck and run over by ambulances and fire apparatus. Firefighting is not a perfect operation anywhere. Let me take your ambulance,cover the windshield with foam, add smoke, screaming radios,multiple victims running around and have you drive through it and tell me you won’ hit something.

  • Ken

    Let’s wait for the coroner’s report before making any conclusions.

    The whole disaster was handled very well by SFFD from one of us who works for a Bay Area fire department with saving and treating as many as that survived the crash.

    Mistakes can be made and we can only learn by them if we screw-up. Too easy to make uninformed decisions without all the facts.