Loved Ones Grieve For Students, Chaperons Killed In Orland Bus Crash
TORRANCE and RANCHO CUCAMONGA (CBS/AP) — One of two identical twins who was on a bus that was involved in an explosive freeway collision Northern California was among the 10 dead, a family member said Friday.
Marisa Serrato, 17, has been missing since Thursday evening after a FedEx tractor-trailer slammed into the bus carrying 44 high school students headed to tour Humboldt State University, said her brother Miguel Serrato, 23. The other twin, Marisol Serrato, was on a different bus that wasn’t involved in the crash and made it safely to the school.
For now, only three of the 10 people missing have been confirmed officially dead: Serrato, Humboldt State alum Michael Myvett and 26-year-old HSU admissions counselor Arthur Arzola.
Serrato’s family had no word on Marisa for nearly 24 hours before dental records confirmed she was among the dead. Miguel Serrato said Marisol called their father Friday evening after going to see her sister’s badly burned body.
“Marisol is devastated,” the tearful brother said. “She thinks it’s her fault, that it was her idea to go look at the university.”
The crash happened near Orland, a small city about 100 miles north of Sacramento.
Marisol was accepted to Humboldt State University, while Marisa was waitlisted there. The two seniors from Norte Vista High School in Riverside decided to check out the campus.
Also on the bus were Myvett and his fiancee, Mattison Haywood – HSU alums who had offered to chaperone the trip. The two had recently gotten engaged while on a trip to Paris.
Haywood has yet to be accounted for — officials say they’re using dental records to positively identify the badly-burned bodies recovered from the crash.
Her father, John Haywood, told CBS2 he was grieving Friday night.
“Rest in peace, my dear. You’re in a good place. We miss you, we miss you, we miss you,” he said.
Myvett’s grandmother, Debra Loyd, said she believed the two were meant to be together for eternity.
“They did everything together. They were doing different things that they liked together. And I’m so happy that they got a chance to be with each other,” Loyd said.
“Two angels are with each other. [God met him up there] to be with his love and to be with his number one angel… And at the end, I am so happy that the Lord took them both at the same time,” she said.
Myvett’s supervisor at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Torrance, where he worked for the past two years as a therapist, expressed his condolences Friday:
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and co-worker, Michael Myvett. He was an extraordinary individual who positively impacted the lives of families with autism spectrum disorder every day,” manager Kyle Farris said. “He was able to connect with our kids on a level few others could and he contributed to their well-being in such a positive and profound way. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this most difficult time.”
Farris described Myvett as energetic, positive and friendly, and added that he was well-liked at work.
Myvett’s family has also set up a fund to assist with burial arrangements. Details on how to contribute are available at GoFundMe.com.
Rancho Cucamonga resident Arthur Arzola was the third chaperone killed on the trip.
Colleagues say Arzola, an admissions counselor for HSU, was a passionate person dedicated to helping young people achieve their dreams.
Arzola grew up in Chino and attended Don Lugo High School, according to his Facebook profile. He married his wife, Crystal, in 2010.
Humboldt State posted the following statement on their website:
“Arzola is remembered by colleagues at Humboldt State for his passionate commitment to helping low-income and first-generation students get into college. The campus community extends its deepest condolences to Arthur’s family and friends. Words cannot express our sadness, and we are here to support them in any way possible.”
There are seven others presumed dead in the crash but have yet to be officially identified, including five high school students from the Southland.
Friends and family have identified those students as: Ismael Jimenez and Denise Gomez of Amino Inglewood Charter High School, Adrian Castro of El Monte High School and Jennifer Bonilla of Dorsey High School.
The students were remembered at gatherings across the Southland on Saturday.
Jimenez and Gomez’s family and friends said they had known each other since the 7th grade.
“He wanted to focus on art,” Evelin Jimenez said of her younger brother, remembering the moment she believed something was wrong.
“Throughout the day, I kept thinking about him a lot – and when I did send a text message he never replied to me. But that is when I got the news that something had happened,” she said.
Jimenez said she received confirmations about the deaths from her parents, and from Gomez’s cousin.
His former baseball coaches and teammates celebrated his memory by releasing dozens of white balloons into the air Saturday.
“Thank you for letting me have the honor of coaching you for one season. And all of your friends, your teammates – he lives on through you guys. Don’t forget that. Him, Denise, all of the people that were involved in this tragedy, they all live on through their friends and families,” coach Carlos Gaxiola said.
Meanwhile, outside El Monte High School, loved ones remembered Castro with a growing memorial.
Friends told CBS2’s Art Barron the 12th grader was a football player at the school and had already been accepted to HSU.