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This article was published 18/10/2013 (1101 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The firefighter who ran over and killed a survivor of a commercial air disaster in San Francisco was unaware of the girl's death at the time and will not be charged with any crimes, a prosecutor announced Friday.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said firefighter Elyse Duckett was responding to the burning Boeing 777 when the truck she was driving rolled over Ye Mengyuan. Investigators believe Ye was lying prone on the tarmac, covered in firefighting foam.
"This was a dramatically chaotic situation," Wagstaffe said of absolving Duckett of any criminal responsibility. "It was not a tough conclusion to reach."
Wagstaffe said he arrived at his decision after reviewing police, fire and other first-responder reports, the coroner's investigation and numerous videos of events at the scene. Ye, 16, was a Chinese student visiting the United States with classmates.
Wagstaffe said some of the videos show the girl on the ground outside the plane before the area was covered in foam. Other videos have shown Duckett's rig later driving over the same area after it was covered in firefighting foam.
San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White declined to discuss Ye's death other than to call it a "tragic accident."
Hayes-White said in a prepared statement firefighters likely saved the lives of many critically injured passengers scattered around the tarmac and still trapped aboard the Asiana Airlines flight that crash-landed July 6.
In all, 304 of the 307 people aboard the plane survived the crash.
Ye and a friend were seated at the back of the plane, which came in too low and too slow, clipping its landing gear and tail on a rocky seawall just short of the runway.
It was unclear how Ye got from the plane to the spot where she died. Investigators believe she was down on the ground and not standing during the aftermath of the plane crash.
Anthony Tarricone, an attorney for Ye's family, said he was not surprised criminal charges were not filed.
"It's really not the subject of criminal prosecution," he said. "It's properly the subject of civil action, which we intend to prosecute."
He said he had not been in touch with Ye's family about the district attorney's decision.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
-- The Associated Press