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19 Jul, 2013 18:30

Asiana flight passenger killed by emergency truck, not air crash

Asiana flight passenger killed by emergency truck, not air crash

A California coroner has revealed that a Chinese student aboard Asiana Flight 214 survived the crash-landing, but was killed by a fire truck in the aftermath of the wreck. Her body was found outside the aircraft.

Ye Mengyuan, a 16-year-old girl from China, was one of the three victims who died after Asiana Flight 214 crashed on its approach to San Francisco International Airport on July 6. Another 180 people were injured.

San Mateo County coroners determined that the girl died as a result of blunt force trauma. The student’s body was found outside of the plane, and mysterious details surrounding her death caused investigators to speculate that she may have initially survived the crash.

Ye had been sitting in the back of the plane, but her body was found near the left wing. Ye’s friend, 15-year-old Wang Lin Jia, was sitting in the back of the plane when she died, which is where numerous casualties occurred. The third girl who died of her injuries, 15-year-old Liu Yi Peng, was also found in her seat on the airplane, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Students of the Jiangshan Middle School light candles to form a heart shape and initials (below), of the victims Yang Mengyuan and Wang Linjia of the Asiana Airlines crash, in Quzhou, Zhejiang province July 8, 2013 (Reuters / Stringer)

There are no witnesses who remembered seeing Ye alive after the accident. But the girl’s body was found covered in fire-fighting foam, 53 minutes after the crash. It remains unclear how she got off the plane.

“I don’t think the [National Transportation Safety Board] knows, I talked to them today,” Coroner Robert Foucrault told reporters late Thursday. Photographs taken by a survivor in the aftermath of the crash show no evidence that Ye’s body was anywhere near the left wing, which suggests that she was in fact killed later on – a fact that the San Mateo County coroners this week confirmed.

The coroner on Thursday announced that the 16-year-old was alive after the crash and was fatally struck by a vehicle. During a press conference on Friday, Foucrault told reporters that the vehicle was indeed a fire truck racing to get to the burning wreckage. While on their way to the scene, firefighters ran over and killed Ye with their truck.

The coroner said the teen was killed by “multiple blunt injuries that are consistent with being run over by a motor vehicle.”

“Those injuries she received… she was alive at the time,” he said.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanna Hayes-White apologized for the “tragic accident,” which contradicts the purpose her department exists to serve.

“Obviously, we are heartbroken,” she told NBC. “We’re in the business of saving lives… It’s very difficult and devastating news for all of us.”

Hayes-White emphasized that emergency workers “risked their lives” to save passengers from the burning plane, and said that the scene was difficult to navigate because of the crash debris that littered the tarmac.

“There’s not a lot of words for how badly we feel about it, how sorry we feel about it,” she added, noting that the fire department had already offered to meet with the girl’s family.

Ye and her friend had planned to participate in a three-week summer camp in Los Angeles, as well as visit Stanford University. Ye’s family has been in the US since last week and is waiting to take the teen’s body to China for burial.