LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Federal transportation officials have released a preliminary report on the fiery Northern California bus crash that killed 10 people earlier this month, but did not state what caused the collision.
Forty-three high school students and three adult chaperones were on a bus traveling from Los Angeles to Arcata for a tour of Humboldt University when the bus was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer on the 5 Freeway in Orland at approximately 5:40 p.m. April 10. Five students and five adults were killed, including both drivers.
In a one-page document released Friday, National Transportation Safety Board officials state the FedEx-operated 2007 Volvo truck tractor, hauling two 28-foot trailers, was traveling in the right lane of the southbound I-5 when it veered into the 58-foot wide center median.
Officials determined the truck drove through a line of oleander bushes in the center of the median and entered the northbound traffic lanes, clipping the rear of a 2013 Nissan Altima four-door occupied by a driver and one passenger.
The Nissan, which had just passed the tour bus and entered the right lane, departed the highway on the eastside. Its occupants sustained minor injuries.
The FedEx truck then collided with the bus, pushing both vehicles onto the eastside of the highway, according to the report.
A post-crash fire consumed both vehicles. Surviving passengers who escaped the bus suffered injuries of varying degree.
The report did not state why the FedEx driver veered off the roadway.
Officials found the FedEx driver had originally left the company’s facility in Sacramento at approximately 10 a.m. and drove to Weeds, about 49 miles south of the Oregon border, where he delivered two trailers.
The driver then picked up two 28-foot trailers and began driving back to Sacramento at approximately 3:30 p.m.
He was en route to Sacramento when the crash occurred.
The bus driver had also made a scheduled stop in Sacramento shortly before the crash, when a replacement driver took over its operation.
Officials noted information in the report will be supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation.
Loved ones meanwhile have held a series of memorials for victims of the crash.
A visitation and rosary service is scheduled Friday night for 19-year-old El Monte High School senior and football player Adrian Castro.
The mother of another victim, Dorsey High School student Jennifer Bonilla, filed suit earlier this week against FedEx, alleging its trucks have a history of catching fire.
A FedEx spokesperson subsequently released the following statement: “Our heartfelt condolences remain with everyone affected by this tragic accident. We remain focused on providing support to those affected and cooperating with the authorities as they conduct their investigation. This is not the time for us to discuss potential litigation.”
The negligence suit seeks $100 million in damages and also names the estate of the FedEx driver and motorcoach operator Silverado Stages as defendants.
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