A San Francisco firefighter accused of accidentally running over a 16-year-old passenger during the Asiana Airlines crash has filed a lawsuit claiming she was used as a “scapegoat” to minimize failures in the Fire Department.
Elyse Duckett, a 24-year fire veteran, alleges the San Francisco Fire Department blamed her for running over Ye Mengyuan on July 6, 2013, allegedly ignoring video evidence showing the victim was first covered in fire-retardant foam and struck by another vehicle, according to the lawsuit filed Friday
Duckett filed the lawsuit “to clear her name,” her attorney, Eduardo Roy, said.
Ye, a Chinese high school student, was one of three people killed when the Boeing 777 clipped a sea wall and slammed into a runway at San Francisco International Airport. More than 180 of the 307 passengers and crew members aboard Flight 214 were injured in the crash.
Ye was sitting in the back of the plane and somehow ended up near the aircraft’s left wing. She was on the ground when she was struck by two firefighting vehicles, according to a report released by San Francisco airport and fire officials in January.
According to Duckett’s lawsuit, Ye was run over twice by an Aircraft Rescue Firefighting unit, which first sprayed the foam and covered her. Although Duckett admits she ran over Yee with her rescue truck, she claims Yee was not triaged and was still covered in foam.
Coroner’s officials said Ye suffered crushing injuries and internal bleeding.
Though prosecutors decided not file criminal charges against anyone involved in the response to the Korean airliner crash, Duckett alleged Fire Department brass interrogated her, misrepresented evidence and pressured her to take sole responsibility for Ye’s death.
Mindy Talmadge, the Fire Department spokeswoman, said officials had not seen the lawsuit and would not be able to comment because of ongoing litigation.
However, the chief, she said, believes the firefighters acted professionally and valiantly.
“She is extremely proud of all the members of the Fire Department that responded to the Asiana incident,” Talmadge said.
Duckett alleges the Fire Department used her in an attempt to draw attention away from what she called “failings” in training, leadership, communication and triage during their response to the crash.
“It’s really a public safety issue,” Duckett’s attorney said.
The National Transportation Safety Board plans to meet June 24 to determine the probable cause of the crash.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times