Firefighter responsible for running over a survivor of Asiana Airlines crash won’t be prosecuted


SFO crashed plane with foam covering the ground.

Brooke Buckley, Staff Writer

The San Francisco firefighter who ran over an Asiana Airline survivor won’t be prosecuted for the accident.

Chinese student Ye Mengyuan, 16, survived the crash at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to be subsequently run over by a fire truck while she was hidden in firefighting foam.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said, “Firefighter Elise Duckett was responding to the burning Boeing 777 when the truck she was driving rolled over Ye Mengyuan.”

Mengyuan was seated with a friend in the back of the plane when it descended into SFO. The plane was just short of the runway and clipped the rocky seawall.

Investigators are unsure how Mengyuan’s body exactly arrived at her place of death but, they believe she was thrown out of the plane.

Wagstaffe said videos show the girl on the ground outside the plane before the area is covered by foam. Then, when Duckett’s truck later arrived near the same area it, appeared to be enveloped by foam.

Carlmont student Sarah Anderson said, “It’s a tough situation, clearly it was an accident but if I were a victim I would want more precautions when driving straight through an area with possible remains.”

San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White said, “It’s a tragic accident, if not for the professional rescue, triage, treatment and transport operations that were conducted by all involved agencies, it is likely that there would have been a greater loss of life.”

Out of the 307 people on the plane only four were pronounced dead though, dozens were injured.

Carlmont student Toni Lupillen said, “If I were in an emergency, I would want firefighters to try and arrive to my safety as soon as possible and that is what Duckett did.”

Rachel Lum, another Carlmont student, disagreed and said, “Ye Mengyuan was a victim and it was not her fault that she was covered by the foam, the firefighter could have taken more precaution.”

It is a firefighters duty to save lives to the best of their abilities. Precaution and urgency conflict in times of emergency. Finding the right balance between the two is an issue.