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Asiana CEO arrives in Bay Area to meet with survivors

Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Chinese students strive for normalcy after SFO crash The CEO of Asiana Airlines arrived in the Bay Area Tuesday afternoon to meet with survivors of Saturdays crash. ACCESS provides emotional services to victims and loved ones, even years after an air disaster.

The CEO of Asiana Airlines arrived in the Bay Area Tuesday afternoon to meet with survivors of Saturday's crash at San Francisco International Airport. The airlines chief executive flew into San Francisco on Asiana Flight 214, the same flight number of the plane that crashed. Young Doo Yoon is believed to be headed to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Burlingame, where survivors, including the pilot, are being interviewed by federal investigators.

It was a mob scene at SFO as the 61-year-old CEO of Asiana Airlines walked out of customs accompanied by San Francisco police officers. It quickly became clear that he did not intend to stop and talk with the scrum of reporters and photographers that surrounded him. A Korean journalist told ABC7 News there was a similar scene when he left Korea. Eventually, the Asiana chief retreated back into customs and eventually left though another exit.

News crews were not welcome on the hotel grounds Tuesday; fences and black drapes were put to block views of the survivors staying at the hotel.

But drapes and umbrella-wielding hotel employees did not prevent a group of the teenage passengers from gathering outside the hotel to pose for a picture.

Survivors of the crash will face another ordeal -- the trauma that follows that kind of event. While the Red Cross and other organizations are there to help immediately following a tragedy, the non-profit group Aircraft Casualty Emotional Support Services (ACCESS) provides support for years after.

In 1996, Heidi Snow lost her fiancé in the TWA 800 disaster off Long Island. All 230 people on board were killed when the fuel tank exploded, caused by an electrical spark. The trauma of that event lingered on for months. Snow says you don't ever move on, you have to move through it.

"Even when the disaster response teams leave we're still grieving and it is still a part of who you become," Snow said.

With no one to support her, Snow founded ACCESS. It provides emotional services to victims and loved ones, even years after an air disaster. The organization is now reaching out to the survivors of the Asiana crash.

"Those affected by this crash who have survived right now are at a certain spot but we have mentors who have been down that road who have lost loved ones and who have survived who have provide a perspective of time," Snow said.

Snow says it's the people who won't talk about it that end up with higher rates of depression.

Chinese students strive for normalcy after SFO crash

The classmates and parents of the two young people who died in the crash are staying in a hotel in Burlingame. All of them are trying to cope with the shock and the loss.

Access onto the hotel property is heavily restricted because the NTSB has also set up shop while investigating the crash. But ABC7 News was able to communicate with the students through Chinese social media.

So far, the best view of America the Chinese students have had is from the window of the Crowne Plaza hotel in Burlingame. Despite attempts to shield them, some students stepped outside on Wednesday to pose for the cameras, but they've been unable to leave the hotel without an escort.

Desperate for some sort of normalcy, the classmates celebrated a female student's birthday on Monday, while being sequestered at the hotel in Burlingame. This is where the NTSB is interviewing the pilots, the crew and passengers of Saturday's plane crash.

On Monday, some of the students were taken to an optometrist in Colma. They were given free glasses to replace the ones they lost in the crash.

A classmate of the two 16-year-old girls who died posted pictures and a message on Chinese social media.

He says, ""What a terrible plane! My classmates in the same row as me... on the second bump, their seat belts automatically unbuckled. Next to me are seats that completely flipped, with passengers stuck underneath."

The parents of the two victims were brought to the Burlingame hotel, late last night after a long flight from China. We could see the mother of Wang Lin Jia.

They came to identify their daughters and bring the bodies home. Another student responded to ABC7 News and said he and his classmates have not met the parents of girls yet, because they don't want to bother them.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
san francisco international airport, plane crash, Asiana Airlines crash, NTSB, burlingame, peninsula news
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