Jan. 09--The parents of the 16-year-old girl who died after being struck by two San Francisco Fire Department rigs at the scene of the Asiana Airlines plane crash in July have filed a legal claim against the city.
The claim, the likely precursor to a lawsuit, says firefighters knowingly abandoned Ye Meng Yuan "in harm's way" after the crash and that the Fire Department failed to train its employees to avoid hitting victims at disaster scenes.
Two other Chinese citizens died July 6 when the Boeing 777 came up short of the runway, struck a seawall and burst into flames at San Francisco International Airport. Ye, who was in a fetal position on the ground near the plane's left wing, was alive before she was struck by the two foam-spraying fire rigs, according to the San Mateo County coroner.
Ye was killed as a result of the firefighters' "gross negligence," said the legal claim, which the girl's parents filed this week.
The claim did not specify a damage amount. The city attorney's office now has 45 days to respond. If it rejects the claim, the girl's family can file a lawsuit.
A spokesman for the city attorney said Wednesday that lawyers are evaluating the claim and had no comment.
Ye was struck first by a rig that had been spraying foam on the burning plane's wing. In documents released last month, the National Transportation Safety Board said footage from a dashboard camera showed that the rig's spotter firefighter had first directed the vehicle around the girl.
The rig later returned to the area, however, and ran over Ye, the footage shows. A second rig later ran over the girl after she had become covered in firefighting foam, footage shot by another firefighter's helmet camera shows.
Fire Department officials have said firefighters looked at Ye before she was struck and concluded she was dead, but none of them checked her vital signs.
Chief Joanne Hayes-White has called Ye's death "a tragic accident," and no one in the department has been brought up on disciplinary charges in connection with her death. However, the chief has moved to reprimand Battalion Chief Mark Johnson, whose helmet camera filmed the second rig hitting Ye, for allegedly violating a department policy against unauthorized videotaping.
In the legal claim, the attorney for Ye's parents, Gan Ye and Xiao Yun Zheng of China, accused firefighters of "deliberately and knowingly abandoning" the girl in a spot where "they knew she would be in harm's way."
The claim says there was no spotter aboard the second rig when it hit Ye, and that it was not equipped with required infrared equipment to detect the heat of victims in its path.
The family says the Fire Department failed to properly train firefighters to assess victims, mark their locations and avoid hitting them.
Jaxon Van Derbeken is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: email@example.com
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