HACIENDA HEIGHTS (CBSLA.com) — A year-long investigation determined that a FedEx truck driver was to blame for a crash with a tour bus carrying dozens of Los Angeles-area high school student that killed 10 people.
According to California Highway Patrol officers, a FedEx tractor-trailer combination vehicle and a tour bus, operated by Silverado Stages Inc., collided around 5:40 p.m. on April 10, 2014, along I-5 in Orland.
Truck driver Tim Evans, 32, made an unsafe turning movement while driving south on the freeway, causing the FedEx tractor-trailer to travel across the grass median at a “shallow angle” and hit a northbound Nissan and the bus without any evidence of turning or braking, CHP Sgt. Nathan Parsons said.
“We’re not able to determine whether he fell asleep or not,” Parsons said. “He had no evasive maneuvers during the collision. So, no braking, no indication of steering to turn the truck out of its direct path.”
Parsons said he could not say whether the Evans was negligent or overworked.
“He had sufficient time off. He was an on-call driver,” he said. “That day, he was working approximately eight hours at the time of the collision. But he had had between eight and 10 hours of sleep the night before.”
Investigators also determined that none of the drivers were using cellphones or were impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Forty-three high school students and three adult chaperones were on board a bus that was traveling from Los Angeles to Arcata for a tour of Humboldt University when the bus was struck by the FedEx tractor-trailer.
National Transportation Safety Board officials released a one-page document on April 25, 2014, that explained a FedEx-operated 2007 Volvo truck tractor, which hauled two 28-foot trailers, was traveling in the right lane of the southbound I-5 when it veered into the 58-foot-wide median.
Officials said the truck drove through a line of buses, entered the northbound traffic lanes, and clipped the rear of a 2013 Nissan Altima four-door, which was occupied by a driver and one passenger. The occupants of the Nissan sustained minor injuries.
According to the report, the FedEx truck then collided with the tour bus, and pushed both vehicles into the east side of the highway. A post-crash fire consumed both vehicles.
The crash killed 10 people and injured 39 others, which left a devastating impact on the victims’ family members and communities.
A negligence suit is seeking $100 million in damages and named the estate of the FedEx driver and motorcoach operator Silverado Stages as defendants.
“Our heartfelt sympathy remains with everyone affected by this accident,” said Jim McCluskey, company spokesman for FedEx. “FedEx Freight cooperated fully with federal and state agencies during their respective investigations, and will carefully review the CHP report. However, we will reserve comment until the NTSB has also completed its work, and finalizes and releases its findings.”
CHP’s Northern Division Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team has closely investigated specific factors such as mechanical, environmental and human factors that were involved in the crash.