Emergency Workers Blamed for Air Crash Death
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (CN) - A 16-year-old girl died in the 2013 Asiana Airlines crash-landing at San Francisco airport - not from the crash, but by being run over by emergency vehicles responding to it, a "tragic and avoidable death," her parents claim in court.
Gan Ye and Xiao Yun Zheng sued the City and County of San Francisco and 16 emergency responders, in San Mateo County Superior Court, for the wrongful death of their daughter, Ye Meng Yuan.
The parents say that rescue workers saw their daughter lying helpless on the ground after the crash "but, inexplicably, failed to evaluate her condition, treat her, mark her location, or remove her from the perilous location where she lay curled in the 'fetal position.' Minutes later, Ye Meng Yuan was run over by two separate aircraft rescue firefighting vehicles."
Asiana Airlines is not a party to the lawsuit.
Ye was one of 307 passengers and crew members aboard Asiana Airlines Flight 214 on July 6, 2013, heading from South Korea to San Francisco International Airport.
The plant struck the seawall just short of the runway. The plane crash-landed and came to rest about 2,400 feet from the sea wall, to the left of the runway, according to the lawsuit.
"Ye Meng Yuan was not ejected during the accident sequence, and her death was not caused by being ejected from the aircraft," the complaint states.
Ye left the plane on one of the slide ramps, after which multiple city and county employees saw her on the ground near a paved cart road by the slide, her parents say in the lawsuit.
"Inexplicably, the rescue workers failed to assess Ye Meng Yuan, communicate her location to command, and failed to mark her location. They did not take her pulse. They did not check her breathing. They failed to conduct any triage on her. They failed to move her to a safe location and abandoned her in a hazardous position that subjected her to grave risk of harm," according to the complaint.
Firefighter Roger Phillips alerted Lt. Christine Emmons - both named as defendants - that "a passenger was lying in the field, but Emmons responded that they should move on," the lawsuit states.
About 15 minutes later, "ARFF [aircraft rescue firefighting] Unit 10" ran Ye over as she lay in the same place, her parents say.
The impact of the emergency vehicle hitting Ye "caused devastating blunt force traumatic injuries that resulted in her untimely death. At the time she was run over by the 'ARFF Unit 10,' all of the other passengers and crew members who were on board Flight 214 had been removed from the close proximately of the aircraft and were outside any zone of danger," according to the complaint.
Another emergency vehicle then maneuvered into the area. Because Ye's body was still unmarked and obscured, the second vehicle struck her as well, the complaint states.
Ye was one of three passengers who died after the Boeing 777 crashed. Asiana Airlines filed a lawsuit against Boeing in January, claiming that equipment on the plane had been improperly installed, resulting in inadequate warnings for the pilots about low airspeed.
In April, Asiana acknowledged that pilot error was partly to blame for the crash. A spokeswoman said that the pilot "could have failed to respond quickly" to problems and that the flight crew failed "to execute a timely go-around when the conditions required it by the company's procedures."
Among the defendants in this lawsuit are Fire Chief Joanna Hayes-White, top officials at San Francisco International Airport, and other individual firefighters and police officers.
Ye's parents seek damages for wrongful death, failure to train and supervise, negligence and survivorship
They are represented by Gretchen Nelson with Kreindler & Kreindler, of Los Angeles.