By Keith Laing
The passenger who called 911 from the San Francisco airport described a hectic scene after the crash landing of Asiana’s Flight 214, which was descending after a 10-hour flight from Seoul, South Korea. The female caller described a woman on the runway with severe head trauma.
“There is a woman out here on the street, on the runway, who is pretty much burned very severely on the head, and we don’t know what to do,” the 911 caller said.
Another passenger described a long way for emergency personnel to arrive after escaping the plane in a separate 911 call.
“We’ve been on the ground I don’t know, 20 minutes, a half-hour,” the second call said after confirming to the 911 dispatcher that she was on the plane that had crashed.
The second passenger also described people who had escaped the Asiana airplane laying on the runway at the San Francisco airport.
“There are people laying on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries, and we’re almost losing a woman here,” the second caller said. “We’re trying to keep her alive.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is investigating the crash, has not ruled out the possibility that one of the accident’s fatalities was caused by a passenger being struck by an emergency vehicle.
NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman has said that she is waiting to make a ruling until she receives an official report from the coroner’s office in California’s San Mateo County, where the San Francisco airport is located.
"The cause of death has not been determined,” Hersman said in a news conference this week. "It is a very serious issue, and we want to understand it.”
The Asiana Airlines crash made headlines because it was the first major commercial airline accident in the U.S. since a 2009 crash in Buffalo, N.Y. News of the crash spread quickly on Saturday when passengers who escaped from the airplane began tweeting pictures of the wreckage.
More than 180 of the passengers were hospitalized with injuries, in addition to the two deaths.
The NTSB has hinted that pilot error was a likely factor. The agency has said the airplane was flying too slowly and revealed that the jet's pilots considered aborting the attempted landing and trying another approach.