The family of an Asiana flight 214 passenger who was killed after being run over by San Francisco Fire Department rescue vehicles as she lay on the tarmac filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, rescue crews, and airport officials.
Sixteen-year-old Ye Meng Yuan of Zheijiang Province, China, was traveling to California with school friends for a summer camp that was to involve trips to Google, Stanford University, and a camp for teaching kids about American culture. She was one of three Chinese teenagers who lost their lives during or after the Boeing 777’s crash landing at San Francisco International Airport July 6, 2013.
According to the lawsuit filed by Ye’s parents in San Mateo County Superior Court, rescue workers observed Ye “lying helpless on the ground” near the downed plane’s left wing and even directed one truck to drive around her. “But, inexplicably,” the suit states, rescue workers “failed to evaluate her condition, treat her, mark her location, or remove her from the perilous location where she lay curled in a fetal position.”
The lawsuit enumerates all the ways rescuers responding to the downed airplane neglected to treat and protect the teen, who survived the crash, according to the coroner’s report, but died after being twice run over by fire trucks.
Footage from the scene shows that one of the trucks drove around Ye when she was still visible, but minutes later she became covered in the fire-retardant foam firefighters used to extinguish the flames that enveloped the jet after impact.
The San Mateo County Coroner’s office found that Ye died after her head was struck by one of the fire trucks.
“Among the named defendants are firefighters Lt. Christine Emmons and Roger Phillips, both of whom have said they saw Ye on the ground and assumed she was dead without examining her,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
In its defense, the Fire Department argues that Ye was dead before the first truck struck her, pointing to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report that said Ye was not wearing a seatbelt when the airplane crashed and the type of injuries she sustained were consistent with being ejected from the fuselage as it broke apart.
The family’s lawsuit, however, claims that Ye “either on her own or with assistance, exited the aircraft down one of the two slide ramps” that deployed after the plane came to a rest. The evacuation slides stretched from the left side of the airplane where Ye’s body was eventually recovered.
Responders to the crash knew that Ye “lay non-ambulatory and unable to protect herself” near the wreckage, the lawsuit asserts, but “in deliberate indifference to known and obvious dangers,” failed to move her from the scene and treat her. They seek unspecified damages.