ID emerges of third girl to die of SF plane crash
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SAN FRANCISCO — The name of a third Chinese girl who died of injuries suffered in the crash-landing of an Asiana Airlines flight in San Francisco emerged on Saturday.
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault confirmed 15-year-old Liu Yipeng’s identity and said the girl was still in her seat when she was rescued last week. Chinese state media said she went to school with the other two victims killed in last week’s accident, a pair of 16-year-old girls.
Foucrault said Liu Yipeng was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with head injuries after the July 6 crash. She died Friday morning at the hospital where she had been in critical condition. An autopsy was being conducted on Saturday, the coroner said.
Liu Yipeng’s identification comes a day after her death was announced amid the official confirmation that one of the other girls who died in the disaster had been covered on the runway in flame-retardant foam and hit by a fire truck speeding to the crash site, a disclosure that raised the tragic possibility she could have survived the crash only to die in its chaotic aftermath.
Police and fire officials confirmed Friday that Ye Mengyuan was hit by a fire truck racing to extinguish the blazing Boeing 777.
“The fire truck did go over the victim at least one time. Now the other question is, ‘What was the cause of death?'” San Francisco police spokesman Albie Esparza said. “That’s what we are trying to determine right now.”
Ye Mengyuan’s close friend Wang Linjia was among a group of injured passengers who did not get immediate medical help. Rescuers did not spot her until 14 minutes after the crash. Wang Linjia’s body was found along with three flight attendants who were flung onto the tarmac.
Moments after the crash, while rescuers tried to help passengers near the burning fuselage, Wang Linjia and some flight attendants lay in the rubble almost 2,000 feet (600 meters) away. A group of survivors called the emergency dispatcher and tried to help them.
Survivors said that after escaping the plane, they sat with at least four victims who appeared to be seriously hurt. They believe one of them was one of the girls who died.
Cindy Stone, who was in that group, was recorded by California Highway Patrol dispatchers calling in for help: “There are no ambulances here. We’ve been on the ground 20 minutes. There are people lying on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries. We’re almost losing a woman here. We’re trying to keep her alive.”
San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said Friday that when airport personnel reached the group near the seawall, Linjia was dead. She did not know when the girl had died.
Several flight attendants remain hospitalized.
Talmadge also confirmed that an Associated Press photograph of a body under a yellow tarp near the burned-out jet was Ye Mengyuan.
The photo, taken from above, shows firefighters looking down at the tarp, and there are truck track marks leading up to it.
Police said the teenager was covered in foam that rescuers had sprayed on the burning wreckage. When the truck moved while battling the flames, rescuers discovered her body, Esparza said.
“The driver may not have seen the young lady in the blanket of foam,” said Ken Willette of the National Firefighter Protection Agency, which sets national standards for training airfield firefighters. “These could be factors contributing to this tragic event.”
He said fire trucks that responded to the Asiana crash would have started shooting foam while approaching the fuselage from 80 or 100 feet (24 or 30 meters) away. The foam was sprayed from a cannon on the top of the truck across the ground to clear a safe path for evacuees. That was supposed to create a layer of foam on the ground that is several inches (centimeters) high before the truck gets to the plane.
The victims were close friends and top students, looking forward to spending a few weeks at a Christian summer camp in California, where they planned to practice English in order to boost their chances of attending a U.S. college.
Their parents were flown to San Francisco after their deaths where the Chinese consulate was caring for them.
The crash-landing occurred after the airliner collided with a rocky seawall just short of the runway. Dozens of passengers were hurt. There were 182 survivors taken to hospitals, though most suffered only minor injuries.
So far, an investigation indicates the pilots, a trainee and his instructor, failed to realize until too late that the aircraft was dangerously low and flying too slow.
Nothing disclosed so far by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators indicates any problems with the Boeing 777’s engines, computers or automated systems.
Also, San Francisco airport officials said that the runway where the jet crashed was reopened Friday evening, and all airlines would resume normal schedules immediately.
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