SAN FRANCISCO -- The 16-year-old Chinese student who was killed by a fire truck at the chaotic Asiana Airlines crash site at San Francisco International Airport this month was pulled from the plane by a rescuer and laid on the ground near the left wing, where a highly regarded veteran firefighter driving her vehicle solo ran the girl over, according to an exclusive ABC7 news report.
The report, citing unnamed sources, states that Elyse Duckett, 49, was driving the rig alone because at the time of the July 6 crash she was out getting food for the station. When she returned, she found everyone had gone to the scene so she got into a reserve truck, Mobile 37, and drove there alone, without a spotter or rider to help navigate.
According to ABC, the reserve truck was not equipped with Forward Looking Infrared, which uses heat-sensing technology to detect body temperature even if the crew can't see a person. Officials have said that Ye Mengyuan was covered by fire-retardant foam when she was hit.
The report states that a firefighter working to rescue victims near the rear of the crashed plane took Ye out and put her on the ground near the wing. The news station cites sources saying the girl should have been moved to a spot that wasn't so close to the aircraft, where fire engines were fighting a blaze that was breaking out. Sources also said that video taken at the scene shows Ye in a fetal position as a number of rescue workers walked by, apparently not realizing she needed help.
ABC sources confirmed that Duckett was told only this week that her truck rolled over Ye. She was offered counseling.
"There's not a lot of words to describe how badly we feel, how sorry we feel," San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White said at a news conference July 19, when the San Mateo County coroner announced Ye was killed by a fire truck and not from the crash. "Could we have done something different faced with the challenges we had in terms of passengers still on an aircraft that was engulfed in flames ... and the need to get to those flames? We had fuel leaking. It was a very dangerous and volatile situation."
Coroner Robert Foucrault said Ye died of "multiple blunt injuries that are consistent with being run over by a motor vehicle," and an examination of internal hemorrhaging ruled out any chance the girl was dead when the truck hit her.
That revelation cast a shadow over the heroic actions of first-responders and medical workers who saved all but three of the 307 passengers and crew on Flight 214.
The ABC report states that Duckett is known as a "sharp, competent veteran of the fire department," whose career was highlighted in an award-winning documentary.
It stated that because of the sensitivity of the story, police and fire sources declined to appear on camera or have their names used.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.