AN Irish-American fire chief has been praised by US president Barack Obama for her Fire Department’s quick response in attending survivors of the Asiana Flight 214 crash.
Limerick descendant Joanne Hayes-White and her team of first responders from the San Francisco Fire Department received high praise because so few lives were lost in the disaster despites 307 passengers being on board the plane
Hayes-White oversees the largest urban fire department in the world led by a female chief
The disaster at San Francisco International Airport claimed the lives of two Chinese teenage girls, and caused injuries to over 180 passengers, many of whom were Chinese school children heading to a summer camp.
The Federal Aviation Administration stated that the plane en route from Seoul, South Korea, crashed before midday local time whilst attempting to land.
Hayes-White is the daughter of Tom Hayes, an Irish immigrant who was a native of County Limerick until 1949.
In Ireland he was involved in politics and served on various boards and committees; he was also an athlete and was welcomed into the San Francisco GAA Hall of Fame in 2008.
Like her father, Hayes-White has also received recognition.
She has formerly been a San Francisco Grand Marshal at the St. Patrick’s Day parade and has occasionally featured in the Irish-American Top 100.
In 2010 she was honoured by the American Ireland Fund, and said of her background: “Because of my Irish heritage, I was raised in a culture of optimism and hope. I look at the glass as half full.”
The first responders have handed over the crash scene to US investigators who are continuing their investigations.