Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Charges weighed in plane crash victim's death

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LOS ANGELES--San Mateo County prosecutors will determine if a firefighter will face charges in the death of a teen passenger who was aboard an Asiana Airlines jet that crashed at San Francisco International Airport. The girl was killed when a firetruck responding to the crash ran over her.

Investigators completed their probe into the incident last week and turned over their findings to prosecutors who will determine within the next two weeks if the firefighter broke any laws, said San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Al Serrato.

"All relevant circumstances will be taken into account when considering our decision," he said, adding the incident occurred in a chaotic setting.

On July 6, an Asiana Airlines jetliner struck a seawall and crashed on the tarmac at SFO.

Authorities believe a firetruck responding to the crash ran over 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan, who was found near the left wing of the plane.

Coroner's officials said Ye was alive on the tarmac when she was struck by the vehicle. She suffered crushing injuries and internal bleeding, including blunt injuries consistent with being run over by a vehicle.

Authorities believed Ye was struck by an Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting truck, a specialized vehicle that can drive at speeds of up to 70 mph and spray fire-retardant foam while speeding toward a burning plane. They said Ye was covered in foam when the truck struck her.

Fire department officials said debris from the crash, a fuel leak and the plane engulfed in flames made it a challenging setting for responding firefighters. They apologized and called Ye's death a tragic incident.

Officials said they would evaluate protocols and look at ways to improve response.

Ye was one of three people killed after the crash. Most of the 307 passengers and crew members on board Flight 214 were injured but survived.

Ye was part of a group of Chinese high school students on their way to West Valley Christian Church and School in the San Fernando Valley for a three-week summer camp.

-- Los Angeles Times

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 A29

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