SAN FRANCISCO – A girl who had been in intensive care since the crash-landing of an Asiana Airlines flight has died, hours after authorities confirmed one of the two Chinese teenagers killed in the disaster was hit by a fire truck speeding to the crash site.
The disclosure about the Chinese teenager raised the tragic possibility that she could have survived the crash only to die in its chaotic aftermath.
No one knows yet whether the two teens lived through the initial impact at the San Francisco airport. But police and fire officials confirmed Friday that Ye Meng Yuan, 16, 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?” police spokesman Albie Esparza said. “That's what we are trying to determine right now.”
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said the results of his initial inquiry into the deaths would likely be released sometime next week. He would not comment on the police investigation.
Her close friend Wang Linjia, also 16, 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.
The other girl, also from China, died Friday morning. San Francisco General Hospital said she had been in critical condition.
Moments after the July 6 crash, as rescuers tried to help passengers near the burning fuselage, Wang Linjia and the flight attendants, who remain hospitalized, lay in rubble almost 2,000 feet away. A group of survivors called 911 and tried to help them.
Members of the group — martial arts athletes and their families returning from a competition in South Korea — 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 Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said Friday that when airport personnel reached the group, Linjia was dead.
Talmadge also confirmed that an Associated Press photograph of a body under a yellow tarp near the burned-out jet was the other victim, Meng Yuan.
The photo shows firefighters looking at the tarp, and there are truck track marks leading to it.
Police said the teenager was covered in foam that was sprayed on the wreckage. When the truck moved while battling the flames, rescuers discovered her body, Esparza said.