Settlement Underway for Firefighter in Asiana Crash Blame Game

A lawsuit claims one firefighter became a "sacrificial lamb" after a teenage girl was run over by trucks in the 2013 crash.

A firefighter blamed for the death of a teenager in the aftermath of the Asiana Airlines crash may receive a $250,000 lawsuit settlement, the San Francisco Examiner reports.

The lawsuit declared that Elyse Duckett was wrongly blamed for the death of 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan, who died in the Asiana crash on July, 6 2013 at San Francisco International Airport. Ye was thrown from Asiana Flight 214 and two fire trucks later ran her over in the scramble to rescue passengers.

Though firefighter Jimmy Yee drove the first rig and fire-fighting foam covered Ye when Duckett drove the second rescue truck, Duckett’s was the only name leaked to the press, according to the lawsuit. Ye was one of three ejected from the back of the plane.

The lawsuit claimed that only Duckett — a Black, lesbian woman and 24-year SFFD veteran — was named in retaliation for speaking up about harassment and discrimination in the department. She is from the first class of firefighters who joined SFFD after it was court-ordered to integrate minorities.

“As questions about SFFD leadership and training intensified, the brass attempted to shift blame and scapegoat an individual firefighter to minimize and downplay broader failures within the SFFD,” the lawsuit states.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said in a court filing that she is not aware of who, if anyone, leaked Duckett’s name to ABC7 News. San Francisco reached the settlement in November and the Board of Supervisors will likely approve the settlement in a matter of weeks.

“While The City has sound arguments and defenses in this matter, we believe this is a reasonable and prudent settlement given the facts, the legal claims and the inherent uncertainty of litigation,” City Attorney’s Office spokesperson John Cote tells the Examiner.

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