Coverage of a fiery bus crash involving Southern California students

Witness: FedEx Truck Already On Fire When It Hit Tour Bus

Earlier reports suggested the fire didn't erupt until the FedEx big rig slammed nto the tour bus

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A couple who was inside the Nissan Altima struck during the deadly Northern California bus crash said the FedEx big rig was already up in flames when it struck the charter bus carrying Southern California high school students. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Friday, April 11, 2014.

    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.

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