<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - California Bus Crash]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/feature/california-bus-crash http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:29:39 -0700 Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:29:39 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA["I Died With Her": Grieving Twin]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 20:58:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/marisolcrop4.JPG

What was supposed to be a day of celebration for Marisol Serrato was another day of sadness as she chose not to walk at her high school graduation on Tuesday without her twin sister, Marisa, who died in a tragic Northern California tour bus crash two months ago.

"The pain was unbearable and unimaginable. I'd never think I'd feel the pain that strong," Marisol said. "And I still walk, I eat, and sometimes I smile, but I feel dead inside. I feel like I died with her."

Marisa was one of 10 people killed in horrific April 10 crash. The 17-year-old was traveling with a large group of Southern California high school students for a spring tour at Humboldt State University.

"The sun can't shine the same way," Marisol said. "Sometimes I feel like because of the pain, I feel in this world it's almost as if I've been living in hell, and inch by inch, we have to crawl out to the light. She just got ahead of us."

Marisol was on the same trip, but she took a different bus.

"As the days go by, the pain subsides a little because I feel like I'm getting closer to her," Marisol said. "I cry in the nights and I still call for her name."

Marisol still plays her guitar, something the two shared. But now she plays alone, her twin's guitar next to her.

"(Having a twin) is a bond that's almost unexplainable because it's a person that knows your every thought and understands you in a way that no other person can understand you perfectly," she said.

Both Marisol and Marisa were outstanding students at Norte Vista High School. And they were both accepted to several colleges. Since the crash, Marisol hasn't returned to school. But she will still get her diploma, as will her sister, posthumously.

"Me and my sister waited so long for this (graduation) day, and also for my birthday, which was three days ago, to turn 18," Marisol said. "I didn't even celebrate it. I was at the cemetery all day that day just hanging out with my sister. I can't...I've never blown candles out on my own."

Marisol has decided not to attend her high school graduation.

“I imagined and envisioned walking next to her, and I can't find the strength to walk there alone without her," Marisol said.

Family members understand why Marisol is choosing not to go, but they also feel tremendous sadness because of how hard the twins worked to get good grades.

"That was my dream to see them graduating," Luis Miguel Serrato said.

"It was supposed to be a big day...to finally reap the rewards of those four years they struggled,"said the twins' sister, Cristina Serrato.

Although she won't be at her graduation ceremony, Marisol is planning to attend the first day of college at La Sierra University to carry on her and her sister's dream of getting a college degree.

“Mostly I could say our dreams, because we shared the same goals," Marisol said.
 

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<![CDATA[FedEx Faces 3rd Lawsuit in Deadly California Bus Crash]]> Tue, 20 May 2014 17:46:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP712206209035.jpg

The family of a Los Angeles student who was among 10 people killed when a FedEx truck collided with a charter bus in Northern California is suing the shipping company.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed Tuesday blames the April 10 crash on the FedEx truck, its manufacturer, Volvo, and its driver Timothy Evans, who was among those killed. The charter bus company, Silverado Stages, is also named in the suit.

The suit was filed on behalf of the late 18-year-old Ismael Jimenez, who was part of a group heading north for a free tour of Humboldt State University. Jimenez broke out a window and helped others to safety, but was unable himself to escape, the lawsuit says.

"Honestly, that's amazing to me that he did that," Ismael's sister Evelin said during a conference announcing the lawsuit. "I mean, he could have saved his own life, but he did it for others, and that's amazing to me."

Jimenez was among the five Los Angeles-area students killed when their tour bus was hit by a FedEx truck on the way to Humboldt State University.

The lawsuit is the third to be filed after the crash.

The mother of 17-year-old honor student Jennifer Bonilla sued FedEx in April, alleging that its trucks have a history of catching fire. That negligence suit is seeking $100 million in damages.

Crash survivor Miles Hill and his family filed a negligence suit May 6 which named FedEx Corp. and Silverado Stages. Miles' father said that because of the trauma, his son can only attend school for four hours a day.

The Hill lawsuit, which seeks unspecified compensatory damages and compensation for medical expenses, alleges the FedEx driver negligently crossed from the southbound lanes of the freeway into the path of the northbound bus.

FedEx issued a statement in response to the first lawsuit that said the company was "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 Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Second Lawsuit Filed in Deadly Bus Crash]]> Wed, 07 May 2014 17:54:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/miles1.JPG

A Southern California student who survived a deadly collision between a tour bus and a FedEx truck said the only thing he remembered as he was sitting behind the bus driver who died was bracing for impact, then nothing.

Miles Hill, who spoke to the media Wednesday as he announced a lawsuit in the crash, said he is thankful to be alive.

“I shouldn't be here," said Hill during a Wednesday press conference. "I’m here. I gotta focus on being here. I can’t be mad at things that happened. Yes, it happened. But I’m alive, so that’s more important than anything."

Hill, an 18-year-old student at the Renaissance Arts Academy in Eagle Rock, continues to recover from a broken collarbone, burns and the mental pain from the crash that killed 10.

His father said that because of the trauma, his son can only attend school for four hours a day. He is assigned recommended reading at home.

"Miles has to heal," said his attorney Christine Spagnoli. "He has to heal physically. He has to heal emotionally."

The student, a violinist who has played for the president and a California governor, said he plans to attend San Francisco State University to study computer science.

His negligence suit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. It names FedEx Corp. and Silverado Stages, the San Luis Obispo-based owners of the charter bus, which had been carrying college-bound students to Humboldt State University for a tour.

It was the second such suit filed in Los Angeles in connection with the April 10 crash, in which five students and five adults were killed when the tour bus was struck head-on by the FedEx truck on the Golden State (5) Freeway in Orland.

Hill said he tried to stay calm and still be of assistance to others while trying to escape. But he said he was doing what anyone else would under the circumstances.

“I wouldn't call myself a hero,” he said.

Hill said he did not know beforehand how to get out of the bus in case of an emergency.

“There were no safety instructions,” he said.

His father said he did not immediately know where his son was taken after the accident or his condition.

“From that moment until I saw him, it was sheer terror,” Gaylord Hill said.

He described his son as “pretty level-headed” and said he hopes the lawsuit will help prevent similar situations from happening to others.

FedEx spokeswoman Bonnie Kourvelas could not be immediately reached for comment.

However, she issued a statement on behalf of the company after the first suit against FedEx was filed on April 22 by the mother of Dorsey High School student Jennifer Bonilla, who was killed in the accident.

That statement said the company was “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 Hill lawsuit, which seeks unspecified compensatory damages and compensation for medical expenses, alleges FedEx driver Timothy Evans -- who was killed in the crash -- negligently crossed from the southbound lanes of the freeway into the path of the northbound bus.

The plaintiff alleges the company failed to inspect the big rig to make sure it was safe to operate and would not create “an unreasonable risk of injury” to others, and further alleges that the Silverado tour bus did not have a safe method of escape in the event of such an emergency, causing Hill to be trapped inside for a time.

“I was in a field across from the bus. The bus was on fire, and my head was bleeding,” he recalled. “There were burns all over me, and I was in massive amounts of pain. But I wasn't trying to focus on that. I was trying to stay calm and think about, ‘I'm going to make it out of this. I'm going to be OK.’”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[NTSB Issues Preliminary Report in Fatal Bus Crash]]> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 12:29:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bus-crash0AP853829983406.jpg

Federal crash investigators released a preliminary report Friday in a fatal collision involving a FedEx truck and a bus that was transporting high school students to a Northern California college campus.

The National Transportation Safety Board report comes about two weeks after the fiery crash on the 5 Freeway that killed 10 people near Orland, Calif., about 150 miles north of San Francisco. The victims included the drivers of both vehicles and Southern California high school students who were traveling to visit the campus of Humboldt State University.

The report outlines the events that led to the crash, but does not provide insight regarding a cause or why the FedEx truck driver crossed a freeway median before slamming into the northbound bus. Investigators have said a final report containing more information might not be available for months.

"The information in this report is preliminary and will be supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation," the NTSB said.

Nine people died at the scene of the crash, and a 10th victim died at a hospital. Nineteen students from 16 LAUSD schools and students from other Southern California school districts were aboard the bus.

The FedEx truck towing two 28-foot trailers left the southbound 5 Freeway lanes, crossed a 58-foot wide center median and crashed through bushes before entering the northbound lanes, according to the NTSB preliminary report. The truck collided with a car that had just passed the bus, then collided with the motorcoach, according to the report.

The report notes that a "post-crash fire ensued." An initial witness report indicated the truck was already on fire before it struck the bus, but NTSB investigators said a few days after the crash that there was no evidence to support that account.

The report also outlines the truck's itinerary on the day of the crash. It departed a FedEx building in Sacramento that morning before arriving in Weed, Calif., about 49 miles south of the Oregon border, to deliver two trailers. The driver picked up two more trailers and was on his way to Sacramento at the time of the crash.

The motorcoach convoy had left Los Angeles that morning and had just completed a scheduled stop in Sacramento for a driver change.

Earlier this week, the mother of a 17-year-old student killed in the crash filed a negligence lawsuit in connection with the collision. The lawsuit seeks $100 million in damages from FedEx.

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[FedEx Sued Over Deadly California Bus Crash]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 04:26:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/AP437289118866.jpg

The mother of a 17-year-old honors student who was among 10 people killed in a fiery Northern California bus crash sued FedEx on Tuesday, alleging that its trucks have a history of catching fire.

The negligence suit that seeks $100 million in damages is the first filed in connection with the April 10 freeway crash in Orland, said A. King Aminpour, the attorney for the plaintiffs.

The suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of Rosa Rivera, mother of Jennifer Bonilla of Los Angeles.

The Dorsey High School student had earned a college scholarship. She and other teens were heading north for a free tour of Humboldt State University when the bus was struck head-on by a FedEx truck.

Dozens escaped through windows before the bus exploded into towering flames, but five students, three adult chaperones and both drivers died.

"She had her whole future before her," Aminpour said of Bonilla. "She was the first in her family to ever go to college."

The California Highway Patrol has not determined the cause of the crash 100 miles north of Sacramento.

Some witnesses reported that the FedEx truck was on fire before the crash, and the lawsuit alleges that FedEx trucks have a history of catching fire from mechanical problems, driver error or improper cargo loading.

"Our heartfelt condolences remain with everyone affected by this tragic accident," Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp. said in a statement. "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 suit also names the estate of the FedEx driver and the bus owner, Silverado Stages, as defendants. The bus lacked adequate exit doors that would have allowed passengers to escape after the crash, the lawsuit contends.

A message seeking comment from a Silverado Stages executive after hours Tuesday was not immediately returned.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[911 Calls Reveal Chilling Moments After Bus Crash]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 03:57:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/AP619076443222.jpg

The 911 calls released Thursday reveal audible cries of fear in the moments after the fiery Northern California bus crash that claimed 10 lives while en route to Humboldt State University last Thursday.

The distressed caller tried to explain what happened over screams in the background.

"We crashed into a bus...a truck. I don't know where we are," the caller said. "We were coming from LA and we're going all the way to Humboldt State University."

Ths bus erupted into flames when a FedEx big rig crossed a 60-foot median and slammed head-on into the bus.

"The bus is on fire," the caller said as others could be heard screaming and crying. "We are getting away from the bus actually."

California Highway Patrol Capt. Todd Morrison said that investigators will conduct vehicle tests using a 2014 tour bus and a 2007 FedEx tractor-trailer truck to learn more about characteristics such as braking and visibility.

“We are hoping to learn how it happened so that we can identify what to do to prevent it from happening again,” Morrison said.

Investigators were also still interviewing passengers, witnesses and urging anyone with video of the crash to send it to authorities. They also attempted to recreate the crash scene with similar vehicles to try to gain insight.

"We owe it to the families of the involved families and the victims of this tragic collision that we tell the story of what happened, and that we tell it as accurately as possible," Leal said.

All 10 victims in the crash had been identified, some by authorities and others by family, including a recently engaged couple, a college admissions counselor and the the drivers of the truck and bus.

Fellow students returned to the scene of the crash Thursday to pay tribute to those killed one week ago.

Glenn County Sheriff-Coroner Larry Jones said most of the victims had been positively identified by his office, but their causes of death were being withhel pending toxicology testing.

"That can be several weeks out before we receieve all of that data from the labatory," Jones said.

Michael Myvette, 25-year-old Mattison Haywood, 26-year-old counselor Arthur Arzola, students Adrian Castro, 18, Marisa Serrato, 17, Denise Gomez, Ismael Jimenez , Jennifer Bonilla, bus driver Talalelei Taiao and FedEx driver Tim Evans were among those killed in the wreck.

The news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. near the collision site.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Recruiter Who Died in Bus Crash Was Living Passion]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:17:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/01-artarzeola.JPG

Krystle Arzola says her husband was dedicated to helping young people get into college, especially those who would be the first in their families to attend, just as he was.

Art Arzola turned down an offer to fly to Humboldt State University so he could ride on the bus with 44 other high school students who were planning to visit the campus.

Arzola, 26, of Rancho Cucamonga, was one of the 10 who died in the head-on crash with a FedEx truck in the Northern California city of Orland.

“He said, ‘No, I want to be with these kids on this bus,’” his wife said. “That’s a long bus ride and I want to be with these kids.”

Messages from students her husband mentored are helping Krystle get through each day, along with her faith.

Krystle Arzola said her husband was living his life’s passion.

“His job was not to tell these students if they could go to college, it was to show them how to get there,” she said.

Added Arthur’s mother, Patricia Arzola: “That was his vision. He wanted to say, ‘Hey, you have a shot. You can do it, too.’

“This is a really tough time for everyone."

The young couple shared a strong faith. Her husband's final journal entry are notes from a church service he attended four days before he died.

“He wrote this in bold,” his wife said. “Storms don't last forever and remember that God will be with us throughout the storm."

Some $15,400 had been raised by Tuesday afternoon on the website gofundme to help pay for the funeral, set for Friday.

On Wednesday, mourners were planning a vigil at the University of La Verne Arzola, where Arzola was a graduate student.

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<![CDATA[Bus Driver Who Died Was Recent Grandmother]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:54:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/01-busdriverfixed.jpg

The bus driver who died along with nine others in a head-on collision in Northern California was a 53-year-old mother of two who recently had become a grandmother.

Talalelei Taiao died when a FedEx truck slammed into the bus she was driving as it carried high school students to a tour of a college.

She honked, braked and swerved to try to avoid the crash, passengers said.

"She was like, a very, very special girl," Sapina Tofi, a family friend, told NBC's Sacramento affiliate KCRA. "(She was) like a daughter to us. ... Her job was important, and the lives of the people on board -- that's very, very important to her."

Lealao-Taiao had just taken over on a shift in Sacramento after another driver had traveled from Los Angeles, the NTSB said.

The FedEx truck driver veered across the Interstate 5 median, sideswiped a sedan and collided with the bus. Dozens of injured students escaped through windows before the vehicles exploded into flames.

"I thought about (Lealao-Taiao's) kids -- her son and her daughter," Tofi said. "And I know she has a granddaughter.

"Every time when I watch the news and I see the accident, it breaks my heart. And I know that's what her husband is going through with his kids right now."

Lealao-Taiao is survived by two children and one grandson, a relative said.

"She just gave, that's how we know Tala," said family friend Temukisa Faalua. "She was always a giving person. We never know what God has planned for us. We never knew that Tala was (going to) leave this way."

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<![CDATA[Wife Recalls FedEx Driver as "My Everything"]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:17:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/01-evans.JPG

The wife of the FedEx big-rig driver who died in a head-on crash with a tour bus, killing nine others, remembered her husband on Monday as her best friend.

Candice Otto Evans paid tribute to her husband, Tim, a lifelong resident of the Sacramento area who had married his high school sweetheart, fathered two daughters and helped coach their soccer and softball teams.

"He was my best friend, my teammate, my rock, my partner in crime, my everything," Candice wrote on Facebook. "He was my saving grace. He saved me from myself. He believed in me when I couldn't and never ever let me fail."

He was the guy who "just stopped by to say hi," she wrote, "and had a way of making everyone feel happy."

"He was perfect for me, a gift from God and was taken too soon. I don't understand ... I never will, but I do know that because of his LOVE, I will go on and be a magnificent WARRIOR.

"RIP beautiful soulmate."

The crash happened Thursday when the truck crossed a grassy median on Interstate 5 in Orland.

The truck slammed into a bus carrying 44 Los Angeles-area high school students and three chaperones.

They were on a trip to Humboldt State University in Arcata.

As family and friends mourned their loved ones, investigators continued to probe the cause of the crash.

Investigators have found no evidence that Evans ever attempted evasive action or used his brakes.

Investigators have learned that 32-year-old FedEx driver had made a delivery to a town called Weed near the Oregon border, before taking on a new load.

He was returning home to Elk Grove where his wife awaited with their two young daughters.

Officials were seeking his cellphone records to try to learn more about his last 72 hours.

They were also interviewing passengers and the coach's owner, Silverado Stages of
San Luis Obispo, in Los Angeles.

Bonnie Duran -- a suburban Seattle resident who reported that the FedEx truck was on fire as it crossed the grass median, hit the Nissan Altima in which she and her husband were passengers, then smashed into the school bus -- also shot video after the crash that has been made available to the NTSB, said National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind.

Other witnesses have contradicted Duran's account of the FedEx big rig being on fire before the crash and Rosekind said, "There is no evidence of pre-impact fire located at the crash scene, in the center median or on the highway lanes."

Investigators will study video from a CHP cruiser to find out how survivors escaped through rows of emergency windows as smoke and flames filled the coach, Rosekind said.

The driver of the bus, meanwhile, was identified as Talalelei Taiao, a 53-year-old mother of two who recently had become a grandmother.

She honked, braked and swerved to try to avoid the crash, passengers said.



Photo Credit: NBCLA.com]]>
<![CDATA[Crash Survivor: "I'm Not Going To Let It Put Me Down"]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 20:51:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/karenduarte1.JPG

From a cramped living room inside the Wilmington home she shares with her two younger siblings and parents, Karen Duarte, 17, of Banning High School pulled out the college acceptance letter she received just a few weeks before.

"I think this is it!" she said with a wide smile on her face. "It says, 'Congratulations. Humboldt State University is please to offer you admission for the Fall 2014 semester.'"

Humboldt State University is Duarte's first - and only - college choice for environmental engineering. While she loves Wilmington, Duarte said, she felt ready to step out from the neighborhood.

"I just want to go out and explore another city than where I grew up," she said. "So I was very excited."

Duarte, a Banning High School senior, boarded a bus April 10 to tour Humboldt State. She was so anxious, she took the first seat she saw.

"I personally like the window seat," Duarte said. "So I saw one, (and) I sat there."

Duarte was just four seats behind the driver.

"I saw the black smoke, I saw the fire, I felt the fire, I felt all the heat, it was like a big cloud of heat that went towards my way," said Duarte, who was asleep when the crash happened. "The only thing I remember hearing was a window (breaking) and that's what made me react."

Duarte jumped out of the window. She has cuts, bruises and a fractured cheekbone. She knows how lucky she is to be alive, especially considering that among the people around her in the front of the bus were the chaperones she had just met that morning. They did not survive the crash.

"All they wanted was for us to be happy," Duarte said of the chaperones. "It looked like they were happy as well that we were going, that we had chosen that school for a reason."

Duarte is the first in her family to go to college and she said this tragedy is not going to change that.

"This thing could have gone totally the opposite way," she said. "I could have not totally been here right now if it was for some other reason. I'm not going to let it put me down."

In an effort to support the students and families suffering from this crash, Sharefest is joining with Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino to launch the Humboldt Bus Crash Victims Assistance Fund.

Money raised through the fund will assist Duarte's family and other victims and their families through any financial hardships as they heal physically and emotionally from the accident.

You can support the families by donating to the fund at: http://www.Sharefestinc.org/buscrashfund

You can also mail a check made payable to Sharefest. Include “Humboldt Bus Crash Victims Assistance Fund” in the memo line.

Mail checks to:

Sharefest Community Development

3480 Torrance Blvd. #110

Torrance, CA 90503

Councilman Joe Buscaino and Sharefest request the public help promote this fund on social media by posting the web address: http://www.Sharefestinc.org/buscrashfund with the hashtag #buscrashfund.



Photo Credit: Hetty Chang/Kevin Dahlgren]]>
<![CDATA[Bus Crash Victim's Twin Sister "Heartbroken"]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 05:41:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/serratotwins4.jpg

The sister of a Riverside girl killed in a fiery Northern California bus crash last week spoke out Monday and said she hasn't been able to sleep since losing her beloved identical twin.

Marisol Serrato recalled the moments before her twin sister, Marisa, boarded the ill-fated bus tour to Humboldt State University.

"I told her, 'What if I get in an accident and God saves you from that because you are on the waiting list?'" she said. "'You might not go.'"

Marisol was on the same college tour, but she boarded a different bus that made it safely to the university.

"And she told me, 'We think the same,' and I asked her, 'Would you cry for me?'" she said. "And she just smiled at me and she just kind of like hit me a little."

Ten people died April 10 when a FedEx big rig slammed head-on into the charter bus carrying dozens of Southern California high school students. Days before the crash, Marisol had a nightmare.

"I had a bad feeling, I was nervous," she said. "I saw my dad in the dream, and he was dressed in all black."

Marisol said she believes it was a sign, but at the time the twin sisters were just excited they both got seats.

"I can't get that image out of my head when I last saw her," she said. "She was just waiting there with my mom and she was smiling. My mom says she got on the bus happy."

After nearly 24 hours of agonizing over whether her sister had survived the crash, Marisol got the confirmation Marisa was killed. The family has since asked for the public to pray for them as they believe that's they only way they will get through her death.

"My heart wants to break. I keep shaking in the night," she said. "I can't stay still. Her image pops and pops in my head over and over again."

Marisa told Marisol that if she ever died, she could read her journal -- something Marisol has decided to do.

"I think she wants me to move forward with this and do something for her, and that's what I'm going to do," she said. "I think, 'Why me? Why did God still want me around? And why her? Why was it her time?'"

Marisol is expected to receive her sister's high school diploma from Norte Vista High School in June. She has also decided not to attend Humboldt State University.

Anyone who wants to donate to the family can do so by using Bank of America trust account for Marisa Serrato, account number 325026597007.



Photo Credit: Tony Shin/Alex Vasquez]]>
<![CDATA[Students Remember Dorsey High Senior Killed in Crash]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 18:50:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bonilla-memorial+copy.jpg

A Dorsey High School senior killed in Thursday’s fiery tour bus crash was remembered with flowers, candles and signs outside the campus Monday as students and faculty continued to mourn her loss.

Jennifer Bonilla was killed when a bus that was carrying Los Angeles area high school students to Humboldt State University was struck by a FedEx delivery truck that crossed lanes of traffic on Interstate 5 near Orland.

Bonilla's friend, Sabrina Garcia visited the campus Monday, where crisis counselors were on hand to help any grieving students.

"I don't understand why someone that's really smart and had a future ahead of her deserved something like that," Garcia said. "She was just a happy person."

Parent Sheiaundra Brady said the crash hit close to home as she prepares her own children for college. 

"As many other parents can say, it could have been my child," Brady said.

The school’s baseball coach Peter Dobson told NBC4 that beginning next week, the team would be wearing black button in memory of Bonilla. He said that most of the team knew the high school senior.

Nine members of the baseball team visited the memorial before heading out to a game later in the afternoon.

Counselors were expected to be at the school Monday and Tuesday as students began their spring break.

A donation site was set up for Bonilla by Nancy Perdomo-Browning, a co-worker of the victim’s sister.

To donate, click here: http://www.gofundme.com/8a287s  

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<![CDATA[Alumni Group Lends Support to Bus Crash Victim]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 03:57:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/humboldt.jpg

A 17-year-old boy who was on the tour bus headed toward Humboldt State University before it crashed joined the school's alumni in Los Angeles on Sunday to lend their support to those affected by the tragedy.

The alumni group hosted the gathering on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, where the teen recalled the tragic crash that claimed 10 lives Thursday.

Daebreon Kendrick said he was sitting on the driver’s side when a FedEx truck collided with the bus head-on, launching him two or three rows forward. He said he opened an emergency exit and fled as the bus became engulfed in flames.

Kendrick said Michael Myvette, a chaperone on the trip who died, tried to make the students feel comfortable on their way to the university.

"Throughout the trip he was coming to the back of the bus talking to everybody, making us laugh," Kendrick said.

Despite the crash, Kendrick said still plans to attend Humboldt State.

"I'm just really thankful and glad he's home," said the boy's mother, Shendonna Robertson. "I know a lot of people lost their loved ones."

"Don't take life for granted," she added.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials set up a fund to provide financial assistant to families affected by the tragedy. Donations can be made by credit card at laspoa.com, or by mailing checks or money orders payable to “LAUSD Family Support Fund" to California Credit Union P.O. Box 29100 Glendale, CA 91209-9971.

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<![CDATA[NTSB: No Evidence Truck Was on Fire Before Crash]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 05:40:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/AP619076443222.jpg

Federal investigators said on Sunday that they haven't found any evidence that the FedEx truck was on fire when it hit a tour bus carrying high school students on a Northern California highway.

Ten people were killed when the delivery truck crossed a 60-foot median and hit a couple’s Nissan Altima and a charter bus carrying dozens of Southern California high school students on Thursday.

Mark Rosekind of the National Transportation Safety Board said authorities were still investigating the scene of the crash near Orland, but there was nothing indicating the truck was on fire while crossing the median or highway before the wreck.

"There is no evidence of pre-impact fire located at the accident scene, on the median or on the highway," Rosekind said.

The couple in the Altima, Bonnie and Joe Duran, said the truck had fire coming from the rear of the truck just before it sideswiped their car.

"Look to the left and there it was, coming through right at me at an angle and I could tell I wasn’t going to outrun him so I just kind of turned to the right and he hit me just like that," Bonnie Duran told NBC4.

Miles Hill disputed other witness accounts claiming the delivery truck was on fire before it collided with the bus.

“It was in perfect condition. It exploded upon impact with the bus," Hill said. "It was not on fire at all.

Video captured by the Durans' and dashcam footage from a California Highway Patrol vehicle were being used in the investigation, Rosekind said.

In the past five years, 109 crashes have occurred within a 10-mile radius of the wreck site. In all of those wrecks, Rosekind said a vehicle had never crossed the median before.

A final report could take up to a year before it is finished, but a preliminary report was expected to be released in about one month, Rosekind said. 

Eight of the 10 killed had been identified as Saturday afternoon.

Michael Myvette, 25-year-old Mattison Haywood, 18-year-old Adrian Castro, 26-year-old Arthur Arzola, 17-year-old Marisa Serrato, Denise Gomez, Ismael Jimenez and Jennifer Bonilla were among those killed when the bus they were riding collided head-on with a FedEx truck on Interstate 5 in Orland, Calif., on Thursday evening.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dorsey High School Senior Identified in Bus Crash]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 03:55:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jenniferbonilla+copy.jpg

A senior from Dorsey High School was identified as one of the 10 dead in the violent Northern California bus crash Thursday.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy confirmed Saturday that Jennifer Bonilla died in the bus that was carrying Los Angeles area high school students to Humboldt State University when it was struck by a FedEx delivery truck that crossed lanes of traffic on Interstate 5.

Bonilla's mother notified Dorsey High's principal that her daughter was on the bus that crashed. A crisis center will be open to students on the Dorsey campus starting Monday at 9 a.m.

A donation site was set up for Bonilla by Nancy Perdomo-Browning, a co-worker of the victim’s sister.

“Any financial assistance you are able to give will be greatly appreciated and updated information will be posted on this site as arrangements are made,” Perdomo-Browning wrote on the site. “The funds will be used by her mother to assist with burial and additional arrangements as necessary in relation to such.”

To donate, click here: http://www.gofundme.com/8a287s 



Photo Credit: Nancy Perdomo-Browning]]>
<![CDATA[Emotional Return for Students on Other Bus]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 19:22:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/bus-crash-reunion.jpg

Dozens of students who visited Humboldt State University made their emotional return home to Los Angeles just days after a violent wreck involving another bus in their convoy claimed 10 lives in Northern California.

Students were met with balloons and hugs from their families outside Union Station just before 1 a.m.

A woman identified only as Ana said she initially thought her daughter was on the bus that crashed. Ana said that due to a chaperone’s mistake, her daughter was put on the other bus.

“I feel so blessed and so grateful that my daughter is back safe,” Ana said. “She was supposed to be on the second bus.”

The daughter is trying to put the crash behind her, and has decided on a college, Ana said.

The crash occurred about 5:40 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 5 near Orland, when a FedEx truck crossed lanes of traffic and hit the charter bus carrying students head-on.

Several of the victims had been identified by family members, including several Los Angeles area high schoolers, a college admissions counselor and a newly engaged couple. 



Photo Credit: Loudlabs HD]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Recounts Escape From Bus Engulfed in Flames]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 02:27:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/miles-hill-bus-crash-survivor.jpg

A Southern California teen said he knew he had to act quickly when he saw a tractor-trailer careening directly toward the tour bus full of students he was riding in.

Miles Hill, 18, escaped the fiery crash with second-degree burns on both his hands and along the left side of his body, among other injuries. Five students and five adults were killed in the crash on Interstate 5 near the small Northern California city of Orland on Thursday.

When Hill saw the FedEx truck coming toward the bus, he covered his head with his fire-repellent Army jacket and braced for impact. As the bus became engulfed in flames, the teen kicked out a window and fled from the burning bus.

“So much adrenaline was coursing through my veins,” Hill said. “I was in so much shock that I did what I had to do. I kicked it and it came off and I ran.”

From his hospital bed at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, Hill said he is still haunted by what he heard and saw.

“Screams of people who were trapped inside burning alive,” Hill said. “They were screaming, ‘Help me, I don’t want to die.’”

The worst of the fire and most of the deaths happened near the front of the bus. Hill was sitting right behind the driver.

“He chose that position because he had read somewhere a long time ago that the safest position in the bus in a bus crash – he had researched it – was in the front of the bus,” said Hill’s father, Gaylord Hill.

Hill disputed other witness accounts claiming the dlivery truck was on fire before it collided with the bus.

“It was in perfect condition. It exploded upon impact with the bus," Hills said. "It was not on fire at all.

The teen was able to save himself and others after kicking out the window. But his father said the teen almost feels guilty about surviving because he wasn’t able to do more for those who died.

“I can’t even imagine him in the middle of the explosion and saved his life, and the others couldn’t,” the father said.

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<![CDATA[Best Friends Killed in Bus Crash]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 03:57:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bus-crash-victims-ismael-jimenez-denise-gomez.jpg

Two Inglewood high school students who were best friends were among those killed in a tour bus crash in Northern California.

Family members confirmed to NBC4 on Saturday that Ismael Jimenez and Denise Gomez, both seniors who attended Animo Inglewood Charter School in Inglewood, died in the wreck Thursday. 

School officials said Friday that two students were on the bus but their names were not given.

Jimenez was an honor student and wanted to be an artist, family members said.

"God is good and he’s great, and he’s going to take care of him," Jimenez’s sister, Evelin Jimenez, told NBC4. "He’s in a much better place than this world that we live in."

Gomez planned to become a lawyer or a teacher.

"She was very family oriented," said Gomez’s aunt, Monica Landeros. "She loved her family very much, and we all love her very much." 

Both teens were on track to graduate this year, school officials said.

A family friend of the victims planned to hold a prayer service at her Inglewood home Saturday.

The crash took place about 5:40 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 5 near Orland, when a FedEx tractor-trailer crossed a median and hit a Nissan Altima before colliding head-on with charter bus carrying dozens of Southern California high school students on their way to visit Humboldt State University.

Evelin Jimenez said she was not angry at the driver of the FedEx truck.

Jimenez said she would like both families to hold a joint funeral for both teens because they were so close.



Photo Credit: Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[24-Hour Hotline for Families of Bus Crash Victims]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 09:13:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP349189381993.jpg

The Red Cross has set up a 24-hour hotline for those affected in Thursday's Northern California crash that claimed the lives of 10 people on their way to visit Humboldt State University from the Los Angeles area.

The crash occurred about 5:40 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 5 near Orland, when a FedEx truck crossed a 60-foot median and hit a Nissan Altima and a charter bus carrying dozens of Southern California high school students.

Five students and five adults were confirmed dead in the crash.

"The American Red Cross would like to express our condolences to those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy," they said in a statement. "Our thoughts are also with those who were injured and their families."

Families affected by the tragedy can seek caseworkers who may need help with transportation expenses, mental health support and counseling, and any who may have incurred significant expenses related to the incident.

Families were told to call 1-800-540-2000.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[No Sign Truck Braked Before Crashing Into Bus: NTSB]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 05:10:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP158992610562.jpg

Investigators found no signs that a FedEx truck braked before colliding head-on with a tour bus in Northern California, killing 10 people, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said Saturday.

The tractor-trailer strayed from the southbound lane at a 10-degree angle, the spokesman said, running over the 58-foot-wide median and onto the northbound lane – but leaving no tire marks behind, NBC News reported.

Tire marks by the bus before the moment of impact stretched for 145 feet, said the NTSB’s Mark Rosekind. The marks indicate that the bus driver reacted to the oncoming truck by braking and steering to the right, he said.

The force of the collision ejected some of the bus passengers, Rosekind said.

The bus, a 2014 model, had been in service for about a month and was equipped with seat belts, Rosekind said.

Rosekind also said toxicology tests were being conducted on both drivers to determine if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash.

Tracking technology on board the tractor-trailer was likely destroyed during a fire, an investigator told NBC News.

The crash occurred about 5:40 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 5 near Orland, when the FedEx truck crossed a median and struck a Nissan Altima and a charter bus carrying dozens of Southern California high school students on their way to visit Humboldt State University.

Rosekind told NBC News that an electronic module inside the delivery truck could give information “about the speed, any hard braking that may have happened.” However, the blaze was so powerful that the device was “probably destroyed” in it, he said.

Rosekind’s comments come after the couple driving the Altima told NBC4 that the FedEx truck was already on fire before it crossed lanes and hit the tour bus.

Bonnie and Joe Duran were driving back to home to the Seattle-area at the time of the crash. They were driving in front of the charter bus.

"The driver (of the Nissan) did report seeing flames that were coming out from the truck tractor cab prior to the crash as it was coming across the median," Rosekind said at the news conference Saturday.

Bonnie Duran said the flames were not coming from the front engine and appeared to be coming from behind the cab.

The Durans were set to be interviewed by CHP investigators Saturday, and could be seen leaving a station Saturday morning.

Seven victims of a fiery bus crash had been identified as of Saturday afternoon. They are Michael Myvette, 25-year-old Mattison Haywood, 18-year-old Adrian Castro, 26-year-old Arthur Arzola, 17-year-old Marisa Serrato, Denise Gomez and Ismael Jimenez.

Four autopsies were completed Friday, and coroners were attempting to complete the remaining five on Saturday. An update was not expected until midweek.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Anxiety, Depression for Survivor of Deadly Crash]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 09:45:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/webApril12Healy_1200x675_224461891830.jpg San Diego-area high schooler Harley Hoyt, 18, was among the survivors of a tour bus crash that killed 10 people Thursday in Northern California. The teen said he plans to finish college in honor of the adults and students killed in the crash. Patrick Healy reports live from Chico for Today in LA on Saturday, April 12, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Survivor of Bus Crash Recounts "Utter Chaos"]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 09:35:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bus-crash-+a.jpg

Two students from San Diego-area schools were among the survivors of the deadly bus crash that killed 10 people – including five high school students – in Northern California Thursday evening.

An official from Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) confirmed Friday morning that a senior from Valhalla High School in San Diego's East County was on the bus during the fiery collision.

At this point, the teenage boy -- now identified as Harley Hoyt, 18 -- is safe and “recovering from minor injuries,” according to the school district official.

A family friend told NBC 7 that Hoyt (pictured below), kicked open a window and helped others escape the wreckage. In the process, he injured his knee and sustained some cuts.

Hoyt spoke with NBC 7 Friday and recounted the frightening ordeal.

“I heard everyone screaming. As soon as I look up, the driver slams on the brakes, pulls down the horn and then I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I saw the FedEx truck come right at us and a split-second later after the driver slammed on the brakes we ran into the FedEx truck head-on,” Hoyt recalled.

“The FedEx truck was on fire; the flames were insane. The windows were blowing up because it was so hot in there. And then, there were large explosions on the bus because it was blowing up and everything was just starting to catch fire,” he added.

Hoyt said the impact from the crash sent him flying forward. When his face slammed into a seat, he bit a hole right through his lip.

Meanwhile, smoke filled the bus. Hoyt said he opened a window to let himself and others out.

“I was all dizzy and shaken up,” he added. "There was an emergency exit window right next to me. I pulled that lever up and kicked that thing open and everyone followed me out that window. When I jumped out I fell, scraped up my hands and stuff, and people fell on top of me."

The high school student described the scene as "utter chaos," with passengers "drenched in blood" and scared, running for safety to the other side of the interstate.

Meanwhile, Gompers Preparatory Academy in San Diego also confirmed that one of their senior students was on the bus and survived the crash.

The charter bus – taking high school students on a college trip – was carrying nearly 50 people, including chaperones, students and the driver, when it was struck head-on by a FedEx truck and white Nissan on Interstate 5 near Orland, Calif., at about 5:40 p.m., CHP officials said.

The head-on impact caused the bus to immediately burst into flames.

Another Southern California student who survived the crash described the scene as “a ball of fire” followed by chaos and panic as people rushed to windows to jump out of the bus.

On Friday morning, the CHP confirmed that five students and five adults died in the collision, including the driver of the FedEx truck, who may have had a medical condition and the driver of the Nissan.

In all, 34 people were injured, officials said.

The students traveling on the bus had been accepted to Humboldt State University and were traveling to the campus for a tour and Spring Preview Day this weekend. Most students on board were from Los Angeles and Riverside school districts, plus the students from San Diego's Valhalla High School and Gompers Preparatory Academy.

Hoyt told NBC 7 his family had flown up to Northern California to get him and he should return to San Diego Friday night. He said being reunited with his family was incredible.

“It was amazing to see my parents. That was a sense of security. I only have my dad, my brother and my mom – and everyone was here for me,” said Hoyt.

Gompers Preparatory Academy also released this statement Friday morning about their student who survived the collision:

“Gompers Preparatory Academy is deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred the evening of April 10, 2014 in Northern California, involving a bus filled with prospective students from Southern California heading to Humboldt State University. While this was not part of a GPA organized field trip, one GPA student was traveling on the bus involved in the accident. We are relieved to report that our student sustained only minor injuries in this crash. He was treated at a hospital overnight, released this morning, and returning to San Diego today with his family.”

The school would not disclose the student's name and said a relative in Northern California was driving the student down to San Diego where he would be reunited with his parents Friday evening.

Meanwhile, Gompers said its support center would be assisting any students and staff in need of counseling.

The tour bus involved in the crash belonged to Silverado Stages, a tour bus company based out of San Luis Obispo, Calif.



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Crash Survivor's Seat Change May Have Saved Life]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 07:34:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/crash+survivor+bryant+blanco.JPG

Seventeen-year-old Bryant Blanco’s decision to switch seats during the bus ride to Humboldt State University may have saved his life.

The Grant High School senior told NBC4 that he started the trip near the front of the bus, talking with Adrian Castro, one of the students who died in Thursday’s tragic crash when the bus they were riding with collided head-on with a FedEx truck near Orland, Calif.

Blanco was in the second to last row at the time of the crash. He moved from the front of the bus to the back during a rest stop.

"I was asleep and I felt the bus brake and that’s what woke me up, because my forehead hit the seat in front of me," Blanco said. "A second later I just see the bus, I just feel the impact. Everyone starts flying around."

Blanco said that many students were trying to leave the bus through the same emergency exit.

"One of the students he was like, 'Everybody get out, the bus is on fire it could blow. You never know if its going to blow,'" Blanco said.

Blanco said many students were trying to leave through the same emergency exit, and that he went to the other side of the bus to exit.

"There was no one on the other side of the bus, so instead of the left side I went to the right side of the bus where there was no one there," Blanco said. "I just pushed the window open, I just jumped and I just ran away."

On Blanco’s way out, he said he found another student on the highway unable to stand up.

"He was on his knees laying forward and I was like 'Man, you got to get up, you got to get up, you gotta get out of here, what if the bus explodes?' He says 'I can’t walk,' so I got down to like one knee, and I was like, 'I’ll help you up,' Blanco said.

Blanco and teen crossed the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 to safety.

"When we got there, I immediately heard an explosion," Blanco said. "From only the front (of the bus) being on fire, to the whole bus engulfed in flames and throwing off smoke."

Ten people died in the crash – five students, three chaperones, the bus driver and the driver of the FedEx truck.

"I saw people get crushed and disappear. So now I’m just like, move on, try to move on," Blanco said.

Norte Vista High School senior Marisol Serrato, Grant High School football player Adrian Castro, 26-year-old college admissions counselor Arthur Arzola and recently-engaged couple Michael Myvett and Mattison Haywood have been identified as victims in the crash.

Despite his injuries, Blanco’s mother is just grateful her son is safe.

"My son is alive, and that’s it. I’m sorry for all the people,” Blanco’s mother Aracaeli Lopez said.

]]>
<![CDATA[Bus Crash Victims Identified]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:53:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP300421924489.jpg

The victims of a fiery bus crash that left 10 dead on a Northern California highway Thursday have been identified.

Michael Myvette, 25-year-old Mattison Haywood, 18-year-old Adrian Castro, 26-year-old Arthur Arzola, 17-year-old Marisa Serrato, Denise Gomez, Ismael Jimenez , Jennifer Bonilla, bus driver Talalelei Taiao and  FedEx driver Tim Evans were among those killed when the bus collided head-on with the delivery truck on Interstate 5 in Orland, Calif., on Thursday evening.

The bus was carrying Los Angeles area students on their way to a college tour at Humboldt State University. The drivers of both the bus and the FedEx truck were killed in the wreck, but their identities have not been released.

Tim Evans: "He was my best friend, my teammate, my rock, my partner in crime, my everything," his wife Candice wrote on Facebook. "He was my saving grace. He saved me from myself. He believed in me when I couldn't and never ever let me fail."

Talalelei Taiao: 

Taiao 53, was driving the tour bus that was struck head-on by a delivery truck. She is survived by two children and one grandson, a relative said.

"She just gave, that's how we know Tala," said family friend Temukisa Faalua. "She was always a giving person. We never know what God has planned for us. We never knew that Tala was (going to) leave this way."

Jennifer Bonilla: 

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy confirmed Saturday that Dorsey High School student Jennifer Bonilla died in the wreck. 

Bonilla's mother notified Dorsey High's principal that Bonilla was on the bus that crashed and was killed.

A crisis center will open to students on campus Monday at 9 a.m.

Ismael Jimenez:

Evelin Jimenez, the sister of Ismael Jimenez, confirmed to NBC4 on Saturday that her brother was killed in the wreck. 

Denise Gomez:

Extended family members confirmed to NBC4 that Animo Inglewood Charter School student Denise Gomez was killed in the wreck. Gomez and Ismael Jimenez, who also died in the crash, were sitting together at the time of the collision.

Adrian Castro:

Friends of Castro, a football player at El Monte Union High School, say the teen was going to be the first in his family to go to college.

"I just felt like I lost a brother, I lost a family member. It hurt real bad," said classmate Nathaniel Medina, who was on the football team with Castro. “He was telling me he hasn't decided what college to go to and then, um, he was telling me he was really excited because he was going to college."

Marisa Serrato:

Serrato, whose twin sister Marisol was also on the trip but rode a different bus, was a senior at Norte Vista High School. Serrato's mother confirmed on Friday that Marisa is among the dead.

Since the crash, the girls' mother struggled to get a hold of Marisa and said she was desperate for information about what happened to her. The family became even more worried when officials called asking for dental records that would be used to possibly identify a victim.

Michael Myvette and Mattison Haywood:

Myvett and Haywood were a recently engaged couple who were chaperoning the students on the trip. Haywood was a high school and college basketball player who planned to become a doctor. Myvett worked with autistic children.

The two were described as very sweet people whose fairytale romance was "like a movie."

"Had only one of them survived, the other would be an absolute wreck because they were two peas in a pod," Mattison's father John Haywood said.

Arthur Arzol:

Arzola, a college admissions counselor, was recruiting for the university in the LA area. He married his high school sweetheart in 2012.

"He had the biggest smile. He was always really charismatic," friend Ryan Garcia said.

A total of five students, three chaperones and both the bus driver and truck driver died in the crash, authorities said. Nine people died at the scene. Arzola died at the hospital.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Witness: FedEx Truck "Already in Flames" When It Hit Bus]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 09:32:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP712206209035.jpg

The couple inside the Nissan Altima who watched the deadly Northern California bus crash said the FedEx truck was already up in flames when it crossed lanes and struck the tour bus head-on.

"It was in flames as it came through the median," Bonnie Duran said, "It was already in flames. It wasn’t coming from the front engine, it was more from behind the cab."

Bonnie and Joe Duran were driving back to home to the Seattle-area at the time of the crash. They were driving in front of the charter bus.

The crash occurred about 5:40 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 5 near Orland, when a FedEx truck crossed a 60-foot median and hit a Duran's Nissan Altima and a charter bus carrying dozens of Southern California high school students.

"Look to the left and there it was, coming through right at me at an angle and I could tell I wasn’t going to outrun him so I just kind of turned to the right and he hit me just like that," Bonnie Duran said.

The truck hit the front door of Duran's Altima and then ripped off the back door and the back trunk, Joe Duran said.

"You just think, 'I’m dead, I’m dead.' And when it swiped us it felt like we floated, we kind of just floated right off to the ditch," Joe Duran said. "We looked at eachother, literally at the same time we go 'we’re alive!"

The pair was expected to interview with California Highway Patrol officials on Saturday. Their account differs from other statements by the CHP that the blaze erupted after the FedEx truck collided with the bus.

Nine people died at the scene of Thursday's crash, and a 10th victim died at a hospital, California Highway Patrol officials said early Friday.

Those killed included five students and five adults who were traveling to Humboldt State University for a campus visit.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Barrier, Double Trailer Safety Debated After Bus Crash]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 01:58:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/041014-DeadlyBusCrash.jpg

The stretch of Northern California Highway where a horrific head-on crash killed 10 people is a relatively safe stretch of road, according to documents and interviews done by the NBC4 I-team.

Information from the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) shows there have been nine accidents in the city of Orland since 2008, but Caltrans says none of the accidents were considered serious.

At least 25,000 cars and trucks pass through that stretch of Interstate 5 every day, according to CalTrans, which characterized that as very low number. In Los Angeles, stretches of highway routinely carry 300,000 to 400,000 cars and trucks per day.

Because the road is sparsely travelled with a very good safety rating, state guidelines say a 60-foot wide median is all that is needed for safety.

Others say that’s not enough. Attorney and Transportation Safety Advocate Katherine Harvey-Lee of the law firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman says the state should reconsider building a barrier in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes of I-5.

“Based on the number of deaths (in this crash) I believe the state will look at this and put a median barrier in to prevent this kind of tragedy in the future,” Harvey-Lee said.

She said barriers like concrete rails -- a common sight on LA freeways -- or even cable guardrails can go a long way to stop head-on collisions. Michigan has installed hundreds of miles of the cable guardrails which state officials say can cut fatal cross-over and serious injury crashes by more than 60-percent.

But an investigator who asked to remain anonymous told the NBC4 I-Team that investigators have already determined that a barrier will not be added along that stretch of highway.

The investigator also said the FedEx truck was traveling 70 to 75 mph when it crashed. The speed limit in the area was reported to be 70 mph.

Additionally, only rear windows opened for survivors to escape, while the front and side windows would not open despite passengers trying to break out, investigators said.

Another safety issue being raised involves the use of double trailers, like the ones the FedEx truck was pulling. Safety advocates said they result in more fatal accidents than trucks towing only a single trailer.

“It takes much longer to stop. It’s harder to control, and the amount of mass and force behind that vehicle is much, much greater," Harvey-Lee said.

But studies are inconclusive. The group Coalition Against Bigger Trucks points to a Department of Transportation report that says “..multi-trailer combinations -- as they are currently designed and configured -- could be expected to experience an 11 percent higher overall fatal crash rate than single-trailer combinations.”

But the NBC4 I-team also found a DOT analysis that indicated while multi-trailer trucks average about a 14 percent higher fatality rate on rural interstates, the fatality rate on crowded urban freeways is actually about 9 percent lower than single-trailer trucks.

NBC4's Phil Drechsler, Tena Ezzeddine and Chris Henao contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: KCRA]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Confirms Daughter Is Among 10 Killed in Bus Crash]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 00:09:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/170*120/twin11.jpg

A Southern California mother who spent the last 24 hours agonizing over whether her daughter lived through a fiery bus crash confirmed late Friday that the girl is among those killed.

The mom of twin teens told NBC4 her daughter, Marisa Serrato, 17, died Thursday night when a tour bus carrying high school students heading for a college tour collided head-on with a FedEx big rig near Orland, Calif.

Marisa's twin sister, Marisol, went on the same trip, but she boarded a different bus and made it safely to Northern California.

The girls, Norte Vista High School students, were heading to Humboldt State University for a college tour.

Marisol signed up for the tour late, so she went on a different bus. Marisa's bus, however, burst into flames on Interstate 5 Thursday evening after the FedEx truck crossed lanes of traffic and slammed into the bus.

Nine people died at the scene of Thursday's crash and a 10th victim died at a hospital. Those killed included five students and five adults -- an engaged couple who were chaperoning, a guidance counselor and both drivers.

Since the crash, the girls' mother struggled to get a hold of Marisa and said she was desperate for information about what happened to her. The family became even more worried when officials called asking for dental records that would be used to possibly identify a victim.

Marisol, who said she's been inseperable from her sister, is devastated.



Photo Credit: The Serrato Family]]>
<![CDATA[NTSB Investigators: "We Won't Be Speculating"]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 01:59:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bus-crash-+d.jpg

The National Transportation Safety Board said Friday it would "not be speculating about probable cause" of a deadly bus crash in Northern California that took the lives of 10 people, most of whom were from Southern California.

Investigators said during a press conference that it would be working to collect information for at least the next one to two weeks depending on what they find.

“(We) don’t have a lot of factual information. It’s very, very early in the investigation still," said Mark Rosekind of the NTSB. "It's really important to acknowledge we won't be speculating about probable cause."

The crash occurred about 5:40 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 5 near Orland, when a FedEx truck crossed lanes of traffic and hit the charter bus carrying dozens of LA-area students head-on.

Nine people died at the scene of Thursday's crash, and a 10th victim died at a hospital, California Highway Patrol officials said early Friday.

Those killed included five students and five adults who were traveling to Humboldt State University for a campus visit. Thirty-one victims were hospitalized after the crash. Their injuries ranged from critical to minor, CHP officials said.

Nineteen students from 16 LAUSD schools as well as students from other Southern California school distructs were aboard the bus.

According to NTSB investigators, the FedEx truck crossed a 60-foot median and struck the tour bus carrying 48 people. The impact stopped the bus followed by both vehicles engulfed in flames.

Rosekind said they're hoping to find data that would have monitored drivers of both the FedEx and tour bus drivers, such as cameras looking forward toward the road and into the interior of the vehicles, but it's not clear if that even exists.

One of NTSB's challenges will be gathering consistent witness information, as details about the crash have been given to numerous different agencies that still need to collaborate, Rosekind said.

Survivors told the investigator the tour bus driver saw the FedEx truck coming toward it and honked the horn seconds before impact.

The side windows of the tour bus would not open as passengers tried to break out; the rear windows did open, investigators said.

A final report on the crash might take up to six months, according to the CHP.

"Since these are such in-depth, detailed investigations, we don't expect to have a final report for a minimum of three months, 90 days," said CHP Lt. Scott Fredrick. "It could take as long as six months depending on what the investigation entails."

Passengers described a "surreal" scene as people kicked out bus windows to escape the fire and smoke after the crash.

Two other buses that were part of the campus trip were not involved in the crash.

An autopsy will determine whether the driver of the FedEx truck had a medical condition or was deceased before the accident. The bus belonged to Silverado Stages, a tour bus company based out of San Luis Obispo.



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Recently Engaged Couple Among Dead in Fiery Bus Crash ]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 05:43:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/165*120/Couple+Proposal.JPG

Michael Myvett and Mattison Haywood were identified Friday as two of 10 victims in Thursday's tragic bus crash in Northern California.

The recently engaged couple, who had been dating since 2011, was chaperoning high school students to Humboldt State University.

"She will always be in my heart," Mattison's tearful mother Carla Haywood said.

NBC4 spoke with Mattison's parents Friday at their home in Chino. Mattison, 25, was a high school and college basketball player, an artist and was studying to become a doctor while planning a life with her fiance Michael.

"Had only one of them survived, the other would be an absolute wreck because they were two peas in a pod," Mattison's father John Haywood said. "Rest in peace baby, daddy loves you."

Carla Haywood learned of the crash from Michael's grandmother.

"(She said) 'The bus that crashed was the one they were on.' And I said, 'How do you know that?' She said, 'Cause I took them to the bus station and I know what bus they got on," Carla Haywood recalled.

In a whimsical engagement, Myvett proposed to Haywood on Christmas Day on bended knee in Paris. It was a trip they both were looking forward to for a long time, said Davonna Foy, a friend of the couple.

"Michael loved Mattison since even I could remember, even before their courtship," Foy said.

The happy couple were described as very sweet people whose fairytale romance was "like a movie."

Last week, Mayvett told his cousin, Trinice Sampson, he wanted to have a family with his fiance.

He said that they wanted to wait until Haywood finished the medical program she was in but that it was very important to the both of them to have children, Sampson said.

Haywood attended Concordia University before meeting Myvett at Humboldt State University. Together they built a community of friends who loved them both.

Those friends were in shock Friday and took to their Facebook pages to write messages about the loss in their lives.

"My heart just sank to my feet. We are going to need each other more than ever now. This feels like a dream...," one friend wrote.

Another friend commented on how beautiful of a couple the two were together and that the loss was "truly a tragedy."

An outpouring of messages from people and organizations that knew the pair continued throughout the day.

Concordia University remembered Haywood on its Twitter page.

"Our prayers are with family & friends of alum Mattison Haywood '10, who passed away Thursday in the tragic bus crash in Northern California," the school posted.

Myvett, who  worked with autistic children at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, was described as, "an extraordinary individual who positively impacted the lives of families with autism spectrum disorder every day," by a spokeswoman for the company.

Myvett's family started a fund-raising site at gofundme.com and was accepting donations to help alleviate the cost of his up-coming services, Sampson said.

The fun-loving pair's journey was cut short Thursday in what friends said was a "devastating" and "tragic" event.



Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[El Monte High Football Player ID'd in Fiery Bus Crash]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 06:09:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/castro-adrian2-web.jpg

An 18-year-old high school senior from the Los Angeles area was believed to be killed when a tour bus carrying students to a university collided with a delivery truck in Northern California.

Adrian Castro, a male student and football player at El Monte Union High School had not been contacted since the crash, district superintendent Nick Salerno told NBC4 Friday. 

Castro's family said they were told by authorities that the teen was on the bus that crashed. Salerno could not confirm Castro's death.

"I just felt like I lost a brother, I lost a family member. It hurt real bad," said classmate Nathaniel Medina, who was on the football team with Castro.

Medina said that Castro was going to be the first in his family to go to college.

"He was telling me he hasn't decided what college to go to and then, um, he was telling me he was really excited because he was going to college," Medina said.

Castro had already been accepted to Humboldt State University and was visiting the campus when the bus crashed.

A vigil was scheduled for Monday night at 7 p.m. at El Monte High School to remember Castro.

"They did do a moment of silence (Friday morning,) student Jackie Zuniga said. "It's very like, so sad to see. I'm speechless you know."

Two other students who were on another bus traveling to the university were taken to a hospital for observation, Salerno said.

Counselors were being sent to the high school for faculty and students.

"He was just like, really friendly so he was like, let's take pictures so we took pictures," Natalia Gaona said. "I’ll remember him as a really good friend, who was really trustworthy, who was an amazing football player."

Five adults and five students were killed when a FedEx tractor-trailer veered across a grassy highway median and slammed into their bus in a fiery wreck, authorities said. The charter bus collided with the delivery truck and a white Nissan on Interstate 5 near Orland, Calif., about 5:40 p.m., CHP officials said.

Two other buses carrying students to Humboldt State University made their way to the college. An admissions counselor from Rancho Cucamonga was killed in the crash. 

]]>
<![CDATA[Rancho Cucamonga Man Identified in Deadly Bus Crash]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 04:05:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/arzola-arthur.jpg

A 26-year-old college admissions counselor based in the Los Angeles area was among the 10 victims killed in a fiery crash involving a tour bus carrying students and a FedEx truck in Northern California Thursday.

Arthur Arzola, of Rancho Cucamonga, was on a bus with about 50 other people on their way from the Los Angeles area to visit Humboldt State University for a college tour. 

"He had the biggest smile. He was always really charismatic," friend Ryan Garcia said.

Arzola was a recruiter for the college for the LA region, according to the university's website. He described himself as a hard-working, thoughtful, compassionate and friendly. 

Garcia said Arzola married his high school sweetheart in 2012.

"He found his true love," Garcia said.

On Friday, the university issued a statement mourning the loss of Arzola, who had been a counselor in the area for the last year.

"Arzola is remembered by colleagues at Humboldt State for his passionate commitment to helping low-income and first-generation students get into college," the statement read. "He dedicated his career to that work."

Five adults and five students were killed when a FedEx tractor-trailer veered across a grassy highway median and slammed into their bus in a fiery wreck, authorities said.

The charter bus collided with the delivery truck and a white Nissan on Interstate 5 near Orland, Calif., about 5:40 p.m., CHP officials said.

Two patients who were listed in critical condition after the crash were upgraded to serious condition Friday morning, hospital officials from the Enloe Medical Center said. Three other patients were in fair condition and six others were relased. 

]]>
<![CDATA[CHP: Bus Crash Investigation Might Take Months]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 03:57:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/AP437289118866.jpg

A day after a collision involving a bus carrying high school students and a FedEx truck left 10 people dead, officials began to identify the victims as investigators tried to determine what went wrong on the Northern California highway -- a process that will likely take more than three months.

California Highway Patrol officials and other public safety personnel said at a news conference Friday morning that nine people died at the scene of Thursday's crash and a 10th victim died at a hospital. Those killed included five students and five adults who were traveling to Humboldt State University for a campus visit.

Thirty-one victims were hospitalized after the crash. Their injuries ranged from critical to minor, CHP officials said.

The bus was one of three transporting students to the Humboldt campus, and authorities said they are examining "all vehicles involved" in the crash. A car -- described as a Nissan Altima -- also was struck, but authorities are attempting to confirm details about the vehicle's involvement in the collision.

The two occupants of the sedan suffered minor to moderate injuries, according to the CHP.

It remained "unclear" whether the FedEx driver fell asleep or experienced a mechanical failure on the vehicle, CHP officers said Friday.

The side windows of the tour bus would not open as passengers tried to break out; the rear windows did open, investigators said.

A final report on the crash might take up to six months, according to the CHP.

"Since these are such in-depth, detailed investigations, we don't expect to have a final report for a minimum of three months, 90 days," said CHP Lt. Scott Fredrick. "It could take as long as six months depending on what the investigation entails."

The update comes as coroner's officials confirmed the identity of a crash victim -- 26-year-old Arthur Arzola, a Humboldt State University admissions counselor based in Los Angeles. He was described as a counselor with a "passionate commitment to helping low-income and first-generation students get into college."

Another crash victim was identified by family members Friday as 18-year-old Adrian Castro, a student at El Monte Union High School. Two other students from the high school who were on another bus were hospitalized.

A mother who spent 24 hours after the crash wondering whether her daughter survived confirmed Friday night the twin teen, Marisa Serrato, died in the crash.

Two chaperones, a newly engaged couple, also died in the fiery bus wreck.

"These are lives lost just as they were beginning to be transformed," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a mid-day news conference.

Sheriff's officials said they will rely on dental records and DNA tests to determine some of the victims' identities because of severe burns suffered in what passengers described as a ball of fire that raced through the bus.

The burned wreckage of the tour bus remained at the crash site Friday morning on Interstate 5 near Orland, about 90 miles north of Sacramento. About 40 passengers -- including 19 Los Angeles Unified School District students -- were on the bus when a FedEx tractor-trailer veered across a grassy highway median and slammed into their bus in a fiery wreck, authorities said.

Passengers described a "surreal" scene as people kicked out bus windows to escape the fire and smoke after the crash.

"I looked forward to the bus and I just see fire," said student Karmin Aguilar. "Just fire, a ball of fire."

Two other buses that were part of the campus trip were not involved in the crash.

An autopsy will determine whether the driver of the FedEx truck had a medical condition or was deceased before the accident. The bus belonged to Silverado Stages, a tour bus company based out of San Luis Obispo.

Silverado Stages is one of the largest charter bus companies in California. It has a good safety record, though the company had two crashes in the last three months, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records.

FedEx, however, has been involved in 171 accidents in California -- five of them fatal -- in the last two years, according to safety records.

A FedEx spokesperson confirmed Friday that the vehicle involved was a freight tractor pulling two trailers. The truck is company owned and operated, the spokesperson told NBC4.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate.

"Every piece of paper associated with this will be looked at," said Eric M. Weiss, an NTSB spokesman.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA["Never a Call You Want to Get:" Bus Company CEO]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:37:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/bus-crash-new-AP162334977839.jpg

Following a tragic bus crash that killed five students, two drivers and three chaperones on their way from Los Angeles to Humboldt County to vist the state college there, the bus company offered its condolences.

And in a statement, the company assured its riders that it has a history of providing safe travel across the West.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured, their families and everyone affected by this accident." reads the statement on the Silverado Stages website. "Our top priority is making sure that the injured are being cared for."

In addition, CEO Michael Vodarsik spoke publicly, saying that his company goes through the "most extensive actions possible to ensure the safety of our passengers and drivers."

He added: "This is never a call you want to get."

Silverado Stages bills itself at the largest private mortorcoach operator in California, which provides charter bus rentals in the Sacramento Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area, the greater Los Angeles area, and the Central Coast.

In 27 years, U.S. Department of Transportation records show that the company has been involved in just two accidents, and only one of them with injury.

The California Highway Patrol said on Friday that it will likely take months to figure out just how and why the bus ended up colliding with a FedEx big rig and a white Nissan on Interstate 5 near Orland, Calif. about 5:40 p.m. on Thursday. The FedEx truck was heading south when it crossed the center line and hit the northbound bus head-on, causing the bus to erupt into flames, CHP officials said.

The group was traveling from Los Angeles to Northern California to tour Humboldt State University.

FedEx also issued a statement: Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the tragic accident on I-5 in California. We are cooperating fully with authorities as they investigate.

Humboldt State University set up a phone number for parents, families and others who need information about their student at (707) 826-6327.The Red Cross in Orland is providing aid and can be reached at (530) 514-9028.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Victims of Deadly Tour Bus Crash]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:56:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/170*120/twin11.jpg A tour bus carrying students from the Los Angeles area to Humboldt State University was involved in a fiery crash with a FedEx truck in Northern California Thursday. Five students and five adults were killed. Thirty-one others were also hospitalized following the crash.]]> <![CDATA["Very Scary" Moments for Parents After Bus Crash]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 22:38:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bus-crash0AP853829983406.jpg

The mother of a teenage boy who was on the college tour bus Thursday night that collided with a FedEx truck, killing at least 10 people, said she is thankful her son is alive and plans to visit him at a hospital.

Covina resident Theresa Fulps’ son Anthony is hospitalized in the intensive care unit with injuries. Anthony is a senior at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove and was one of many Southern California students on their way to visit Humboldt State University at the time of the crash.

"Blessing all the families in the bus crash. My son was aboard that bus. So very scary," Fulps posted on Facebook.

Five students and five adults were killed in the crash and fire, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Fulps told NBC4 that Humboldt State University is flying her to Humboldt and taking care of her rental car and hotel accommodations while her son recovers in the hospital. Joyce Lopes, Vice President for Administrative Affairs at Humboldt State University, confirmed the university is flying many parents to Northern California. Lopes said that because schools were closed in the evening and overnight, the most difficult part in making arrangements has been getting in touch with the parents. Lopes added that the school will not close it's emergency operation until all parents had been contacted.

Fulps said called the hosiptal directly to get in touch with her son after her son's father informed her of the crash. Her son Anthony had left his cell phone on the bus escaping the fire and smoke.

"He had a chaplain in (the hospital) and a social worker, so they were holding the phone for him because he couldn’t hold the phone because he’s in a sling," Fulps said.

He told her he thinks he escaped through a bus window but he doesn't quite remember, Fulps said.

"He wasn't doing too good then," said Fulps. "He was pretty out of it because they were doing breathing treatments and there was a lot of pain from the fracture."

Anthony (left), who had just been accepted to Humboldt University, suffered a fractured elbow and smoke inhalation.

"I'm very, very thankful," said Fulps. "I just broke down."

The crash occurred around 5:40 p.m. Thursday. The charter bus collided with a FedEx big rig and white Nissan on Interstate 5 near Orland, Calif., CHP officials said.

CHP officials said among the dead are five students, three chaperones and two truck drivers. At least 34 passengers were injured.

The FedEx truck was heading south when it crossed the center line and hit the northbound bus head-on, causing the bus to erupt into flames, CHP officials said. The reason the FedEx crashed or how the Nissan was involved was not clear.

Nearly 50 people were on board, including the students, a few chaperones and the driver, CHP officials said. The group of students from Los Angeles and Riverside school districts was heading to Humboldt University's Spring Preview Day this weekend.

A parent told NBC4 her twin daughters, Marisa and Marisol Serrato, are students at Norte Vista High School in Riverside, but they boarded two separate buses because one daughter had signed up for the tour late. Their mother said she couldn't get a hold of the daughter who was aboard and was desperate for information about her condition.

"We love them a lot and we're waiting for them to come back," the twins' younger sister Clara Serrato told NBC4.

Late Friday night, the twins' mother confirmed her daughter Marisa died in the crash.

Jonathan Gutierrez (right), one of two students at Banning High School in Wilmington, was on the bus and told NBC4 the impact was sudden, extremely painful and immediately ignited a fire. Passengers smashed open windows to escape. He told NBC4 that he had planned to sit in the front of the bus, but moved to the back after his friend convinced him to do so. He added that most of the damage occurred in the front of the bus.

"I fell to the ground , cause I was at the edge of the seat.  I looked forward to the bus and I just see fire. Just fire, a ball of fire. And then...ball of fire. Everybody screaming and like I was panicking so I just started banging the window to the right," student Karmin Aguilar said. "Everybody, like three people were trying to fit through the window at one time."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bus Passengers Describe Escape From "Ball of Fire"]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:33:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bus-crash-+a.jpg

Students on a bus involved in a fatal crash with a delivery truck described a "surreal" scene, including passengers desperately scrambling to escape thick smoke as they kicked through windows of the burning bus.

Jonathan Gutierrez, 17, was one of several Southern California high school students on the bus that crashed with a FedEx truck Thursday, killing at least 10 people in northern California. He was sleeping at the back of the bus at the time of the violent impact on Interstate 5 north of Sacramento.

“It was just a big bang. I had my eyes closed. I was trying to go to sleep. When I heard it I was just like, 'What just happened?' I didn’t want to believe that we crashed but, it was surreal moment," Gutierrez said.

Another student, Karmin Aguilar, was also surprised by what he saw.

"I looked forward to the bus and I just see fire. Just fire, a ball of fire. And then...ball of fire," Aguilar said.

The students were on an 11-hour trip that departed from Union Station. They were bound for Humboldt County to visit Humboldt State University, party of a tour involving two other buses.

The bus that crashed was carrying 19 LA Unified School District students from 16 high schools. Nearly 50 people were on board the bus that crashed.

Gutierrez (below) was one of two students on the bus from Banning High School in Wilmington.

He told NBC4 the impact was sudden, extremely painful and immediately ignited a fire. He said there was one emergency exit and that most passengers smashed open windows to escape.

"It was very hard to breathe. I started to panic just overwhelmed with what was going on so I just grabbed my phone and I jumped out. I had no shoes on or anything," Gutierrez said.

"Everybody, like three people were trying to fit through the window at one time," Aguilar added.

Gutierrez told NBC4 that he had planned to sit in the front of the bus, but moved to the back after his friend convinced him to do so. He added that most of the damage occurred in the front of the bus.

"When I see the pictures now it’s unbelievable. I was in that and something could have happened to me and I am grateful I survived." Gutierrez said. "My apologies and condolences to the families. Like, it’s something that makes us think we can take life for granted."



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[19 LAUSD Students in Fiery Bus Crash]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:16:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/041014-DeadlyBusCrash.jpg

Los Angeles school officials released a list Friday morning of schools attended by Los Angeles Unified School District students aboard a bus that crashed in northern California, killing five students and five adults.

Officials could not confirm early Friday whether LAUSD students were among the deceased victims but a Los Angeles family confirmed their 18-year-old son from the El Monte Unified High School District was among the missing and feared dead.

Officials called the family of Adrian Castro Friday morning to give them the heartbreaking news that their son was unaccounted for.

Nineteen students from 16 LAUSD schools were aboard the bus, one of three destined for a student preview visit at Humboldt State University. School officials said students from other Southern California school districts also were aboard the bus that crashed.

"The news of last night's bus crash near Orland continues to grow more grim and heartbreaking today," said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, in an email statement.

LAUSD officials, including Superintendent John Deasy and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti,  spoke at a press conference Friday afternoon.

"We will do everything we can to help families get through this moment," Garcetti said.

Not all of the students involved in the crash had been located, officials said during an earlier press conference Friday morning. That inormation was repeated by Deasy Friday afternoon.

LAUSD officials will continue to wait for families to arrive at Northern California hospitals, he said.

Parents and family members in need of assistance can call 213-241-3841.

The Los Angeles School Police Association set up an LAUSD Family Support Fund to help those affected. You can donate here.

The list of LAUSD schools with students aboard the bus is below:

  • San Fernando High School
  • Dorsey High School
  • Fremont High School
  • City of Angels High School
  • Manual Arts High School
  • Banning High School
  • Carson High School
  • Chavez High School
  • Diego Rivera High School
  • Middle College High School
  • Belmont High School
  • Wilson High School
  • Chatsworth High School
  • Jefferson High School
  • Grant High School

The trip was organized by officials with Humboldt State University. The school is using sign-up sheets and bus rosters to identify the passengers.

One of the LAUSD students, Jonathan Gutierrez from Banning High School in Wilmington, described the crash as "surreal." He was seated at the back of the bus when he heard a loud "bang."

“It was just a big bang. I had my eyes closed. I was trying to go to sleep. When I heard it I was just like, 'What just happened?' I didn’t want to believe that we crashed but, it was surreal moment," Gutierrez said.

A delegation of LAUSD officials arrived Friday morning and was escorted to the crash site by law enforcement officers. Another group was expected to arrive later Friday.

A second bus that was part of the tour also left from Southern California and the third bus originated in Fresno.



Photo Credit: KCRA]]>
<![CDATA[10 Killed in Bus Crash; SoCal Students Aboard]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:12:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/califire.jpg

Investigators are trying to determine what went wrong on a Northern California highway Thursday night, when a delivery truck crossed into oncoming traffic and slammed into a bus carrying prospective college students from Southern California, leaving 10 people dead.

California Highway Patrol officials and other public safety personnel said at a news conference Friday morning that nine people died at the scene of Thursday's crash and a 10th victim died at a hospital. Those killed included five students and five adults who were traveling to Humboldt State University for a campus visit. Thirty-one victims were hospitalized after the crash.

It remained "unclear" whether the FedEx driver had fallen asleep or experienced a mechanical failure on the vehicle, CHP officers said Friday.

The update comes as coroner's officials confirmed the identity of a crash victim -- 26-year-old Arthur Arzola, a Humboldt State University admissions counselor based in Los Angeles.

Jonathan Gutierrez, one of two students at Banning High School in Wilmington who was sitting in the back row, told NBC4 Southern California the impact was sudden, extremely painful and immediately ignited a fire.

“It was just a big bang," Gutierrez said. "I had my eyes closed. I was trying to go to sleep. When I heard it I was just like, 'What just happened?' I didn’t want to believe that we crashed, but it was surreal moment."

The students traveling on the bus were set to visit Humboldt State University for a college tour. The California Highway Patrol officials said Friday that among the dead are three chaperones and the drivers of both vehicles.

Another student on the bus, Karmin Aguilar, spoke with NBC4 about the moments immediately after the crash.

"I looked forward to the bus, and I just see fire," Aguilar said. "Just fire, a ball of fire."

She said everyone started screaming and she "started banging the window to the right. Everybody, like three people were trying to fit through the window at one time."

CHP first reported seven students and the bus driver were killed in the crash, but later revised that figure. Five students and five adults were killed, the agency said Friday morning.

The charter bus collided with a FedEx big rig and white Nissan on Interstate 5 near Orland, Calif., about 5:40 p.m., CHP officials said.

The FedEx truck was heading south when it crossed the center line and hit the northbound bus head-on, causing the bus to erupt into flames, CHP officials said. The reason the FedEx truck crashed or how the Nissan was involved was not clear.

An autopsy will determine whether the driver of the FedEx truck had a medical condition or was deceased before the accident.

The bus belonged to Silverado Stages, a tour bus company based out of San Luis Obispo.

The NBC4 I-Team found that Silverado Stages, one of the largest charter bus companies in California, has a good safety record, though the company had two crashes in the last three months, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records. FedEx, however, has been involved in 171 accidents in California -- five of them fatal -- in the last two years, according to safety records.

FedEx could not immediately confirm if the big rig was owned by the company or leased from a sub-contractor.

Nearly 50 people were on board, including the students, a few chaperones and the driver, CHP officials said. The group of students from Los Angeles and Riverside school districts was heading to the University's Spring Preview Day this weekend.

According to the itinerary, the students left LA's Union Station 6 a.m. Thursday and were supposed to arrive at HSU by 7 or 8 p.m. They were scheduled to return to LA Sunday morning. Parents had to complete an authorization form consenting to medical treatment before the students were allowed to board.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said several LAUSD students were on the bus, and at least one student who was injured called to say she was ok.

"We don’t know the exact number of LAUSD students who were on the bus, because this was not an LAUSD field trip," Deasy told NBC4. "The field trip was organized by an outside group to visit Humboldt State."

LAUSD spokesman Tommy Chang confirmed students from Robert F. Kennedy High School and Manual Arts High School were among those on the trip.

A parent told NBC4 her twin daughters, Marisa and Marisol Serrato, are students at Norte Vista High School in Riverside, but they boarded two separate buses because one daughter had signed up for the tour late. Their mother said she couldn't get a hold of the daughter who was aboard and was desperate for information about her condition.

"We love them a lot and we're waiting for them to come back," the twins' younger sister Clara Serrato told NBC4.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement Thursday evening on the deadly crash.

"Anne and I extend our heartfelt and deep sympathies to the families, friends and loved ones of those who died in the tragic accident near Orland this evening," he said.  "As we mourn the loss of those who died, we join all Californians in expressing our gratitude for the tireless work of the Red Cross and emergency personnel who responded bravely to this terrible tragedy."

LAUSD administrators were en route to the scene of the crash. Both FedEx and Silverado Stages said they were working with authorities during the investigation.

Parents and family members of students who were on the bus may contact Humboldt University police for more information at 707-826-5555.

Orland is about 480 miles north of Los Angeles, and 150 miles north of San Francisco.

NBC4's Tena Ezzeddine, Robert Kovacik, Jacob Rascon and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dramatic Images: Deadly Calif. Bus Crash]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:28:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/bus-crash-new-AP162334977839.jpg At least ten people were killed on Thursday evening when a tour bus carrying Los Angeles-area high school students crashed in Northern California, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LAUSD Addresses Deadly Bus Crash]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 06:00:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/11pwhiteweb_1200x675_223149123996.jpg Los Angeles Unified School District officials addressed whether their students were aboard a tour bus when it crashed while en route to a college tour at Humboldt State University. Students from at least two LAUSD schools were on board, but it was not clear if they were among those killed. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Thursday, April 10, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Bus Company in Deadly Crash Had Good Safety Record]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:30:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/new-bus-crash-edt-cali.jpg The NBC4 I-Team found that Silverado Stages, the bus company involved in Thursday's deadly Northern California crash, has a good safety record. It is one of the largest charter bus companies in California, and the company had two crashes in the last three months. FedEx, however, has been involved in 171 accidents in California -- five of them fatal -- in the last two years.

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[9 Killed in Fiery Bus Crash; SoCal Students Aboard]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 06:00:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/11phealyWeb_1200x675_223148611800.jpg At least nine people were killed when a tour bus carrying Southern California students to a college university tour in Northern California was struck head-on by a FedEx truck. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Thursday, April 10, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Mother Desperate to Talk to Daughter After Deadly Bus Crash]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 06:00:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/11prasconwebredo_1200x675_223150147691.jpg The mother of twin girls was devastated to learn one of her daughters was on the bus that crashed in Northern California while heading to a college tour. Her other daughter was heading to the same area but on a different bus. Jacob Rascon reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Thursday, April 10, 2014.]]>