Friday, July 19, 2013
Coroner's investigators and police trying to determine whether one of
the victims of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 was alive when she was hit by
a fire truck have another mystery on their hands - how she got to where
her body was found.
No witnesses have come forward to say they
saw 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan alive in the area where her body was
eventually found after the Boeing 777 crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, Robert Foucrault,
the San Mateo County coroner, said Wednesday. And several photographs
taken in the first few minutes after the crash, while inconclusive, do
not appear to show her body.
"The question is: How did she get
there?" asked Foucrault, who said he is close to concluding his
preliminary report of his findings on how Ye died. "We don't know how
she got there - that is what we're trying to determine."
Ye was sitting in the back of the plane, according to the National Transportation Safety Board,
but her body was found near the left wing. It's unknown whether she was
thrown from the jet when it hit a seawall and the tail broke off, but
other casualties who were sitting in the back - including Ye's friend Wang Lin Jia, one of the two other girls who died in the crash - were found behind the aircraft.
Photos of little helpFoucrault
said photos and videos he has seen provide little help in determining
whether Ye walked to the left wing on her own or was brought there by
other means. "Hopefully, through interviews or someone's recollection,
someone will be able to tell investigators how she got there," he said.
body was found at the edge of a paved path near the left wing sometime
before 12:20 p.m., the time her death was reported to dispatchers, the Fire Department said. That was 53 minutes after the crash.
Two photos taken by crash survivor Eugene Rah
show passengers outside the plane near the left wing, apparently after
all able-bodied survivors had fled the burning aircraft. Ye's body is
not visible in the pictures, nor are any passengers gathered where she
was later found.
Police Chief Greg Suhr
said Friday that her body was finally found amid foam that firefighters
were spraying on the plane. He confirmed that the girl had been run
over by firefighters trying to douse the flames, but said it still
wasn't clear whether Ye was already dead when she was hit.
know for sure she was at least run over one time, but at the time she
was under foam, so nobody could have seen her," Suhr said. "And the
question is whether or not she was still alive at the time."
Video: before and afterThe
police hit-and-run detail has been investigating Ye's death. A video
taken by one firefighter shows the apparently lifeless body of the
foam-covered girl before and after a rig ran over her, investigators
told The Chronicle.
Another firefighter then pointed out the victim, said the
investigators, who asked not to be identified because they were not
authorized to talk about the case publicly.
The investigators said the fire rig apparently hit Ye after all the passengers had been evacuated.
police spokesman said Friday that the rig had been spraying foam on the
fire and was repositioning to get a better angle when Ye was struck.
"It wasn't going that fast," said Officer Gordon Shyy,
a police spokesman. "When the firefighters repositioning the truck
stopped, they realized there was a deceased person on the ground. She
was lying down, covered in foam. They marked it, continued on to
fighting the fire and notified the command chain there was a deceased
Ye was flying from China to visit Stanford University and then attend a three-week summer camp at a Christian school
in Southern California. Her family has been in the Bay Area since last
week, awaiting the coroner's findings on what killed her.
"We're concluding our investigation and we'll speak to the family before anything is released publicly," Foucrault said.