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."
News from across California
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.