San Francisco's fire chief has banned the use of helmet-mounted cameras after footage recorded by a battalion chief at the Asiana Airlines crash on July 6 became public. One of the fire trucks belonging to the battalion ran over a survivor of the crash and killed her as she lay on the tarmac.
The ban by Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White has stirred up suspicions San Francisco authorities are more interested in covering their backs than investigating the truth.
Hayes-White said she issued the order due to concerns that filming the scene violated the privacy of both firefighters and victims, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday. "There comes a time that privacy of the individual is paramount, of greater importance than having a video," Hayes-White said.
But the SF Chronicle reported that "critics, including some within the department, questioned the chief's order and its timing -- coming as [Battalion Chief Mark] Johnson's footage raised the possibility of Fire Department liability in the death of 16-year-old Ye Mengyuan."
Earlier, the SF Chronicle obtained stills from the footage from Johnson's helmet camera and published them. They show Ye lying still next to the left wing of the aircraft, but firefighters began spraying fire-retardant foam all over the plane in the belief that the victim had died.
Ye's body was soon covered in the white foam, apparently making it difficult to distinguish her from the landscape. Johnson, unable to spot the girl, ordered his fire trucks to move toward the aircraft and one ended up running over her. An autopsy showed Ye was still alive after the crash but was killed by the vehicle.
The lawyer representing Ye's family said the decision by the fire chief is a matter of "grave concern."