No Criminal Charges in Runway Death After Asiana Crash

Prosecutors announced Friday they will not seek criminal charges against a firefighter who ran over and killed a survivor of the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed at San Francisco International Airport.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe sent out an e-mail with his decision Friday. The name of the firefighter has not been released.

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"I have concluded that there is no criminal culpability for any individual involved in the response to the airline crash,"  Wagstaffe said in his e-mail. "The death of 16 year old Le Mangyuan was a tragic accident that did not involve any violation of our criminal laws."

Wagstaffe said his office now considers the case closed.

Authorities have said 16-year-old Chinese student Mengyuan survived the July 6 crash only to be run over by a fire truck while she was covered in firefighting foam.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White reiterated her initial statement on the finding saying,
“This was a tragic accident.” She said her department will remain vigilant "in exploring areas in our operations, strategies and tactics where improvements could be made." (Full statement below).

In all, 304 of the 307 people aboard the Boeing 777 survived the crash, although dozens of people were injured.

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Ye and a friend were seated at the back of the plane that came in too low and too slow, clipping its landing gear and tail on a rocky seawall just short of the runway.

It was unclear how Ye got from the airplane to the spot where she died. Investigators believe she was down on the ground and not standing during the aftermath of the plane crash.

Anthony Tarricone, an attorney for Ye's family, said he was not surprised criminal charges were not filed.

"It's really not the subject of criminal prosecution,'' he said. ``It's properly the subject of civil action, which we intend to prosecute.''

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Statement by Joanne Hayes-White:

I remain extremely proud of the valiant efforts of the members of the San Francisco Fire Department who responded to the Asiana Airline incident on July 6, 2013. They performed extremely well under the extraordinary circumstances they were faced with. 304 people survived the violent crash. Many of the injured were in critical condition. 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. I want to reiterate my initial statement regarding the death of Ye Meng Yuan, “This was a tragic accident.” The San Mateo County District Attorney, Stephen Wagstaffe, has confirmed that there was no criminal culpability by any of our members. The San Francisco Fire Department remains vigilant in exploring areas in our operations, strategies and tactics where improvements could be made. The NTSB investigation is ongoing therefore the Department will not be commenting further.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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