Investigators have reviewed San Francisco International Airport surveillance video to determine whether an emergency vehicle ran over one of two teenage girls killed in Saturday’s plane crash, but a federal official said “it wasn’t conclusive.”
National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Deborah Hersman called the possibility a “very serious issue.”
“I can tell you that the two fatalities were located in seats towards the rear of the aircraft. This is an area of the aircraft that was structurally significantly damaged. It’s an area where we’re seeing a lot of the critical or serious injuries,” Hersman said of the girls’ location.
Investigators want to make sure they have all the facts before reaching any conclusions. The coroner has not yet determined the girl’s cause of death and is charged with doing so.
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said his office was conducting an autopsy to determine whether the girl survived the crash but was run over and killed by a responding vehicle. Foucrault said his staff was “made aware of the possibility at the scene” by San Francisco Fire Department officials on Saturday.
The coroner said he hoped to have preliminary autopsy results later Monday, but would not release the results for “at least two or three weeks” until his full investigation is completed. Foucrault said he made that decision independently without consulting either city officials or federal accident investigators.
SFFD Chief Joanne Hayes-White and Assistant Deputy Chief Dale Carnes both publicly acknowledged earlier Monday that one of their trucks responding to the Asiana Airlines crash might have run over one of the victims.
“There was a possibility one of two fatalities might have been contacted by one of our apparatus at one point during the incident,” Carnes said.
In addition to the coroner, Carnes said police, FBI and other officials were notified “immediately” after a firefighter at the scene reported his concerns.
The five drivers of rescue vehicles that day all passed drug and alcohol tests. No one has been suspended.
The body of the girl who might have been struck was found on the left side of the aircraft about 30 feet away from where the Boeing 777 came to rest after it skidded down the tarmac, said Foucrault.
The girl was not far from an emergency slide. The other body was found on the runway near where the plane’s tail broke off upon impact. The coroner said both girls were pronounced dead at the airport.
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