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Attorney: Asiana crash video shows firefighters didn't help girl soon enough

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 2:12 PM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
  • A new video of Asiana plane crash shows firefighters spotting girl on ground
  • Video shows firefighters failed to save Chinese girl, her family's attorney says
  • "The video ... shows at least five firefighters who saw her," attorney says
  • Video challenges city's account the girl was concealed by firefighting foam

(CNN) -- A new video of last year's Asiana Airlines plane crash in San Francisco shows firefighters spotting a 16-year-old Chinese girl lying on the ground, but failing to help her, an attorney for the girl's family charges.

Ye Meng Yuan was later run over by two different fire trucks, killing her, said Justin Green, a lawyer for the girl's family.

The newly released video challenges an account by fire officials that the Chinese teenager was accidentally run over because she may have been covered in firefighting foam, Green asserts.

In fact, the video depicts one firefighter alerting a truck driver about how "there's a body right there."

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In the footage, a firefighter stops an emergency vehicle racing toward the scene.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop, stop, stop! There's a body ... there's a body right there. Right in front of you," the firefighter told the driver.

The video was captured on a camera attached to a firefighter's helmet and first aired by CBS. Another video from a fire truck shows a firefighter on the ground directing the truck around a victim, who was not covered in foam at the time.

Ye's parents have filed a gross negligence claim against the city and county of San Francisco, arguing that the emergency responders who spotted Ye on the ground failed to save her life.

No charges for firefighter who ran over Asiana crash survivor

Ye was on the plane traveling from her China home to an American summer camp and was her parents' only child, under China's one-child policy, Green said.

"It's unthinkable, it's unimaginable, because the first thing that -- the first priority of the firefighters or any rescue personnel is saving lives," Green said of the video. "And the first step in triage is to take the pulse, check the respiration. That was never done.

"And the video, which I think is the best evidence of what happened, shows at least five firefighters who saw her, who understood she was there, and none of them did the basic step of checking if she was alive," Green told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

The tire of first fire vehicle ran over the girl's head, and then a second fire vehicle, which wasn't equipped with a spotter to help maneuver it, ran over her body, Green said.

A California coroner ruled that Ye was alive when flung from the plane but died of "multiple blunt injuries that are consistent with being run over by a motor vehicle."

"Those injuries she received, she was alive at the time," San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin expressed caution, however, in interpreting the video.

"To create this image of the firefighters as incompetent villains here based on a tape that's been edited, as I understand it, by the plaintiff's lawyers here, I mean, I think it's important to reserve judgment," Toobin said, while acknowledging "the horrible pain" the girl's family is now enduring.

"This is a complicated situation where the chronology is very important. And you know, we're not talking about a traffic accident where there is one body on the floor -- and, of course, firefighters should check that. We're looking at a situation where firefighters are potentially looking at hundreds of casualties and are trying to deal with that," Toobin said.

Two other people died when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash-landed July 6 at the San Francisco International Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board said the jet descended in altitude faster than it should have, and had a slower forward speed than intended.

Asiana: We're paying $10,000 to each passenger in San Francisco crash

CNN's Drew Griffin, Holly Yan, Dan Simon and Mike M. Ahlers contributed to this report.

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