Rescue Vehicle ‘Likely’ Hit Asiana Vic1tim, Official Says

One of two Chinese teens who died at the scene of the Asiana Airlines Inc. crash in San Francisco was “most likely” hit by an emergency vehicle rushing to the burning plane, a fire department spokeswoman said yesterday.

Seoul-based Asiana identified the girls as Ye Meng Yuan and Wang Linjia, both 16. Authorities aren’t saying which may have been run over and whether the death was attributable to the crash or to the fire vehicle.

The girls, who were on their way to a summer camp in the U.S., were the only fatalities among 307 passengers and crew on the Boeing Co. 777 at San Francisco International Airport on July 6. U.S. investigators are trying to determine why the South Korean pilots didn’t react to a critical loss of airspeed until seven seconds before the plane slammed into a seawall short of the airport’s runway.

“The incident commander was notified by one of the chiefs on the field that it appeared that there was a possibility that one of the deceased had been hit by one of the fire vehicles,” Mindy Talmadge, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Fire Department, said yesterday in an interview. “Most likely it was a fire vehicle, but everything is still kind of up in the air until the investigation is complete.”

Video of the crash scene isn’t clear enough to determine whether the girl was struck by a fire vehicle, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said yesterday. Talmadge said the body was located near the plane, which had spun off the runway.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White asked the San Francisco Police Department to assign its major accident investigative team to the case, Talmadge said. Hayes-White also notified the NTSB, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and airport officials, according to Talmadge.

The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office, which is investigating the deaths, didn’t respond to calls and e-mails requesting comment.