Prosecutors are deciding whether a firefighter racing toward a burning, crashed airliner in San Francisco should be criminally charged for running over a 16-year-old survivor who was lying on the runway, or whether the death was just a tragic accident.
Chinese student Ye Mengyuan, along with two classmates, died and dozens were injured after an Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.
Almost immediately after the chaos had cleared, fire officials said they believed a fire truck had driven over one of the victims who had been buried under firefighting foam that rescue workers were spraying to douse the burning plane.
A San Mateo County Coroner’s Office autopsy obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press concludes that Ye survived the crash and was hit by a fire truck on the tarmac, “leading to her death on the ground.”
Prosecutor Al Serrato, an assistant district attorney in the county, said Tuesday he expects their office will decide within two to three weeks whether to file criminal charges.
“Whenever a vehicle collides with a person and causes death, there’s a possibility of a crime,” he said, noting that there are a range of potential charges from vehicular manslaughter to recklessness.
“And there’s also the possibility this was just a tragic accident.”
Boston-based attorney Anthony Tarricone, who is representing Ye’s family and other survivors, said regardless of whether criminal charges are filed, he plans to sue the San Francisco Fire Department and other agencies involved before a January deadline.
South Korea-based Asiana Airlines said Tuesday the two pilots flying the airliner when it crashed are returning to work this month, but they won’t be flying.
Lee Gang-kuk, who was landing the Boeing 777 for his first time at SFO, and Lee Jeong-Min, a trainer making his first trip as an instructor pilot, will instead be working at Asiana Airlines’ Seoul headquarters, the company said.