The Norman Transcript

July 13, 2013

Police: Teen in Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash hit by fire truck

By Terry Collins and Joan Lowy
The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — One of the two Chinese teenagers killed in the Asiana Airlines disaster was hit by a fire truck while covered with firefighting foam, authorities said Friday, revealing a startling detail that suggested she could have survived the crash only to die in its chaotic aftermath.

However, it wasn’t clear whether Ye Meng Yuan, 16, was already dead when the collision occurred or whether the truck killed her moments after Saturday’s crash.

“The first truck 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 right now.”

The other victim, 16-year-old Wang Linjia, was dead when airport staff found her, authorities said Friday. Her body was near three flight attendants who were flung from the back of the plane when it broke open. They all survived.

San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said the results of his initial inquiry into the deaths would likely be released sometime next week. The coroner said both bodies arrived directly from the airport. He would not comment on the police investigation.

Police said the teenager was on the ground and covered in foam that rescuers had sprayed on the burning wreckage of Flight 214. When the truck moved while battling the flames, rescuers discovered her body in the tire track, Esparza said.

Ye and her friend Wang Linjia, also 16, were memorialized Thursday at the Los Angeles Christian school that was their summer destination. Photos of the girls displayed at the memorial showed the pair with wide grins flashing peace sign. In one photo, they formed their arms into the shape of a heart.

The airliner collided with a rocky seawall just short the runway. Dozens of other passengers were injured, although most suffered only minor injuries.

Nearly a week after the crash, investigators have pieced together an outline of the accident. With each new bit of information, the picture that emerges is of pilots who failed to realize until too late that the aircraft was dangerously low and flying too slow.

Nothing disclosed so far by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators indicates any problems with the Boeing 777’s engines, computers or automated systems.

“The first thing that’s taught to a pilot is to look at the airspeed indicator. It is the most important instrument in the cockpit,” said Lee Collins, a pilot with 29 years and 18,000 hours experience flying a variety of airliners.