Francisco Firefighter A 'Scapegoat' In Death Of Asiana Passenger:
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[May 10, 2014]
By Madeleine Thomas
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A veteran San
Francisco firefighter blamed for accidentally running over and killing a
16-year-old passenger thrown from an Asiana Airlines plane crash sued
the city on Friday, claiming she was unfairly made a scapegoat.
The suit, filed by Elyse Duckett in San Francisco Superior Court,
acknowledged that the fire department vehicle she was driving struck
the female passenger, Ye Meng Yuan, but Duckett argued another
emergency vehicle ran over the girl first.
The other vehicle also accidentally covered Ye's body with
fire-suppressant foam, obscuring her from sight, the suit said.
"The sacrificial lamb selected was 24-year veteran firefighter Elyse
Duckett, a lesbian and woman of color who helped pioneer
desegregation efforts in the (fire department)," the lawsuit stated.
Ye was one of three passengers killed in the July 2013 crash of
Asiana Airlines flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport.
Another 180 passengers were injured.
State prosecutors did not file criminal charges in connection with
Ye's death, but her family has filed a civil claim against the city.
Duckett's lawsuit alleged the fire department had video evidence
that Ye was first covered with foam and run over by a different
vehicle, but that the department misrepresented evidence regarding
the crash and its aftermath, and pressured Duckett to take sole
responsibility for the girl's death.
Duckett's lawsuit accused members of the San Francisco Fire
Department of leaking her name to a local television news reporter
as being the one to blame for the girl's death.
The firefighter, who seeks unspecified damages, accused the city of
violating her procedural rights and retaliating against her for
previous discrimination complaints.
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A San Francisco fire department representative declined to comment
on the lawsuit.
Fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge in January reacted to a
claim Duckett had submitted that month in advance of filing the
"The Chief of Department has been, and continues to be, extremely
proud of all of the members of the San Francisco Fire Department who
responded to the Asiana Airline incident," Talmadge said,
"especially under the extraordinary circumstances that they were
The National Transportation Safety Board has scheduled a June
hearing to determine the probable cause of the crash of the Asiana
Airlines flight, a Boeing 777 jet.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Mary Wisniewski)
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