Video shot from the helmet-mounted camera of a San Francisco fire battalion chief reveals new details into the death of 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan, an Asiana crash victim who was killed after being run over by a S.F. fire rescue truck.
The latest footage was recorded off the helmet of Battalion Chief Mark Johnson as he arrived at the July 6 incident where a Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane carrying 309 passengers crashed at San Francisco International Airport.
The video, which was turned over to investigators from the fire and police departments and the National Transportation Safety Board this morning, shows in graphic detail the events that ended with Ye being crushed by a foam-spraying rig and run over twice by a rescue truck.
The current investigation stemming from the release of the video aims to discover exactly how Ye was put in harms way, mistaken for dead and run over, which resulted in the unfortunate death of the teen victim, a Chinese teenager who was part of a group of 29 students and five teachers on their way to West Valley Christian Church's camp in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.
The only detailed account of the video is from the San Francisco Chronicle, who says they were able to review a copy of the video through an anonymous source. The footage, the Chronicle says, reveals how Ye was run over.
The video has not been made public, but stills from the footage have. The video begins with Johnson arriving at a staging area an estimated several hundred feet from the plane.
After Capt. Anthony Robinson, who coordinated the initial emergency response, confirmed to Assistant Fire Chief Tom Siragusa and Robinson that there were no passengers on the plane, Siragusa then put Johnson in command of the firefighting and rescue effort, and the battalion chief started walking toward the wreckage, the Chronicle says.
According to the Chronicle, Johnson then tells the driver of Rescue 10 -- one of their foam-spraying vehicles -- to redirect his aim towards the area where Ye's body was later found, however this was still unknown to S.F. fire at the time.
Johnson then called Rescue 37 to take over Rescue 10. The driver in charge of Rescue 37 sprayed foam towards the area, and after a few minutes announced she was out of foam and had to go get more. As Rescue 37 drove off, it ran over Ye.
Ye's body was discovered after Fire Lt. Christine Emmons decided to make one more round in search of survivors, despite what the Chronicle claims is Johnson saying it was "useless" to do so. When Emmons found Ye's crushed body, Johnson exclaimed, "My God," according to the Chronicle.
It is still not clear how Ye's body ended up where it did, on the left side of the plane about 30 feet from where the Boeing 777 came to rest, and the investigation may discover that. The investigation may also review whether negligence on behalf of S.F. fire is involved or whether it really is just as Chief Joanne Hayes-White, says, "a tragic accident."
No date has been announced as to when the investigation will be complete.
SFPD spokesman Albie Esparza told us on July 12 that as S.F. fire responded to the incident, a foam was dispersed to combat the burning fuselage that resulted from the crash. Her body was discovered by a fireman the day of the crash laying on top of a rescue truck's tire tracks, which made police think the victim might have been covered with the foam after rescue trucks arrived, and in turn say it obscured her body.
"After one of the fire trucks repositioned itself, a body was discovered in the tire tracks left by one of the fire trucks," Esparza told us.
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault confirmed to SF Weekly July 19 that the autopsy showed that Ye was still alive for several minutes after the plane crashed, and she died because of multiple blunt injuries she received from being run over twice by S.F. fire trucks.
"It's a very emotional time for our office and the San Francisco Fire department," Foucrault told SF Weekly after the autopsy confirmed she was killed by S.F. fire and not the plane crash.
Note: In Chinese terms, names are arranged in order of "family name" and then "given name", not "first" then "last" name, as is Western custom. Hence, Ye is the victim's last name.