US & Canada

Asiana crash: Emergency workers saw Ye Mengyuan on tarmac

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Media captionNew footage has come to light that shows emergency vehicles at the scene of the Asiana plane crash in San Francisco in July 2013

Firefighters responding to a San Francisco plane crash last July knew a Chinese teenager was on the ground nearby before they ran over her.

Footage from a helmet camera shows another firefighter pointing at Ye Mengyuan minutes before she was hit by a fire engine.

Fire officials say they believed Ye, 16, was dead. A lawyer said no attempt was made to check her vital signs.

A medical examiner found she was killed by the vehicle, not the crash impact.

She was one of three people killed after Asiana flight 214 hit the seawall at the end of the airport runway in San Francisco and crashed.

The video was first made public by US broadcaster CBS. Ye's family has sued the city over her death.

A spokeswoman for the San Francisco fire department declined to comment because of the pending lawsuit, but confirmed videos and photographs from the scene had been handed over to the department.

'Body right there'

The video shows one firefighter pointing to Ye, who appears prone and motionless in a section of grass without firefighting foam. Later a firefighter warns a fire engine driver heading towards the plane.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop, stop, stop!" he is heard saying. "There's a body right there, right in front of you."

CBS did not release later footage but described the rest of the video in which about 15 minutes afterwards, Ye, now covered with foam is run over by a fire engine. She is reportedly hit by a second fire engine several minutes later.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The helmet cam also shows a firefighter covering Ye's body

"At least five firefighters knew of her presence before she was covered in foam; nobody examined her, nobody touched her, nobody protected her, moved her or did anything to take her out of harm's way and then they abandoned her there," said Ye's family lawyer Anthony Tarricone.

In an earlier inquiry by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), firefighters told investigators they assumed the girl was dead and rushed towards the plane to help survivors inside.

"This is not a matter of us being careless or callous," Assistant Deputy Chief Dale Carnes said in December. "It was the fact we were dealing with a very complex environment."

Local prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges against the emergency officials or the fire department.

San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said the teenager's body had been covered with firefighting foam when she was hit and that the crash aftermath was "dramatically chaotic."

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