UPDATE: 5 Students Killed, 5 Adults in 3-Vehicle Crash on Interstate 5 Freeway
ORLAND, Calif. (April 10, 2014) — A charter bus carrying 48 Los Angeles high school students heading to visit a local college was hit head-on by a Fed Ex tractor trailer truck Thursday night killing 10 people and injuring at least 35 others, according to a dispatch by the California Highway Patrol and news sources.
About 5:41 p.m., CHP officials reported the head-on crash between the bus and the big rig truck that closed down both north and south-bound lanes on the Interstate 5 freeway. Numerous injured people were airlifted from the wreck to hospitals, the report said.
Initial reports say the Fed Ex truck sideswiped a Nissan Altima before it veered over from southbound lanes into oncoming traffic on the northbound side and hit the bus and both vehicles became engulfed in flames. The drivers of both the bus and the truck both died as well as multiple students on the bus.
Today police say five students were among those killed as well as three of four chaperones on board including Arthur Arzola, 26, of Rancho Cucamonga who was a recruiter for Humboldt State University.
The university tweeted its condolences to families: “Humboldt State University is deeply saddened by a tragic accident that occurred earlier this evening involving a charter bus filled with prospective students. They were on their way to visit campus for the April 11 Spring Preview event.”
Witnesses told news reporters that the bus exploded into flames and smoke quickly filled the vehicle making it difficult to see. They kicked out a window and many climbed or jumped out of it to escape the smoke and flames.
The bus was on route to Humboldt State University in Arcata where the students were planning to participate in the university’s Spring Preview Day this weekend. Many of the students were from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The district announced at a press conference on Friday that they had 19 students aboard the bus from 15 campuses: Banning, Belmont, Carson, Chavez, City of Angels, Diego Rivera, Dorsey, Fremont, Middle College, Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, San Fernando, Manual Arts, and Wilson, Chatsworth.
At least 10 ambulances and four helicopters responded to the scene of the crash to transport victims to nearby hospitals. At least two are in critical condition. Many of those injured suffered minor injuries and paramedics treated them at a shelter set up by the Red Cross. About a dozen victims were sent to Enloe Medical Center in Chico for treatment. Mercy Medical Center in Redding took five injured passengers, but they have since been released.
Many of the students who suffered minor injuries stayed overnight at the Veterans Memorial Hall.
“This is an unspeakable tragedy for the victims and families of those who died today,” said Attorney James Johnson, a Los Angeles-area injury attorney. “My prayers go out to those involved as they try to make sense of what happened and cope with this terrible loss.”
The fatal crash is now under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and Fed Ex is cooperating with them as they try to piece together what led to the head-on crash. Investigators are expected to be on the scene of the crash as early as 9:30 a.m. on April 11, 2014.
Find out how to file a legal claim after an accident by contacting Johnson Attorneys Group at (800) 216-3668.
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