SAN FRANCISCO — The Asiana jet that crashed at San Francisco International Airport left lower sections of its tail on a rocky seawall and in the bay, then scattered debris several hundred feet down the runway, the NTSB reported Monday in describing the plane's deadly path.
National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Deborah Hersman said the lower portion of the plane's tail cone was found in rocks inside the seawall. A "significant piece" of the tail of the aircraft was in the water, and other plane parts were visible at low tide, she said.
Hersman said at a news conference that investigators have reviewed airport surveillance video to determine whether an emergency vehicle ran over one of two teenage girls killed in Saturday's crash but have not been able to reach any conclusions.
She called the possibility a "very serious issue."
"I can tell you that the two fatalities were located in seats towards the rear of the aircraft. This is an area of the aircraft that was structurally significantly damaged. It's an area where we're seeing a lot of the critical or serious injuries," Hersman said of the girls' location.
Investigators want to make sure they have all the facts before reaching any conclusions, Hersman said, adding that the coroner has not yet determined the girl's cause of death and is charged with doing so.
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault earlier said his office was conducting an autopsy to determine whether one of the victims survived the crash but was run over and killed by a responding vehicle. He said his staff was notified of the possibility by senior San Francisco Fire Department officials at the crash site on Saturday.
San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and Assistant Deputy Chief Dale Carnes both said earlier Monday that one of the two teenage girls killed in the crash might have been struck.
"There was a possibility one of two fatalities might have been contacted by one of our apparatus at one point during the incident," Carnes said.
More than 180 people went to hospitals with injuries. But remarkably, 305 of 307 passengers and crew survived the crash and more than a third didn't even require hospitalization. Only a small number were critically injured.
Investigators said Asiana Airlines Flight 214 was traveling "significantly below" the target speed during its approach and that the crew tried to abort the landing just before it smashed onto the runway. What they don't yet know is whether the pilot's inexperience with the Boeing 777 and at San Francisco's airport played a role. Officials said the probe will also focus on whether the airport or plane's equipment also could have malfunctioned.
One of the issues NTSB investigators are certain to give a hard look is what role pilot fatigue played in the accident. The accident occurred after a 10-hour nighttime flight. As is typical for long flights, there were four pilots on board precisely so that they can switch off in teams of two to get rest. But pilots who are regularly fly long routes say it's very difficult to get restful sleep on planes.