The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a crash that killed 10 people yesterday when a FedEx Corp. truck slammed into a bus carrying more than 40 high school students in Orland, California.
The chartered bus, operated by Silverado Stages Inc., was shuttling students to Humboldt State University for a visit. Five students, three adult chaperones and the two drivers were killed in the fiery collision, the Associated Press reported.
At about 5:41 p.m. the FedEx truck crossed over the center median of Interstate 5 and collided head-on with the coach, which erupted in flames, according to the California Highway Patrol. At least 30 people were injured, according to a statement from the university. Students were being treated at six local hospitals.
Jonathan Gutierrez, a student at Banning High School in Wilmington, California, posted on Twitter a picture of himself at the hospital after the crash.
“Can’t believe this just happened.. I was asleep and next thing you know I was jumping out for my life,” he wrote, sending a picture of smoke billowing from the crash scene.
Gutierrez was one of at least two Banning High School students on the bus, the school’s student government said in a message posted on Twitter.
Three buses, two from Los Angeles and one from Fresno, were headed to Humboldt, a California State University campus in Arcata, according to information on the university website. They were taking prospective students from several high schools throughout Southern California to tour the campus. Orland is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Sacramento.
One of the buses originating in Los Angeles was involved in the collision. The other two made it to Arcata without incident.
Members of FedEx’s security and safety teams are taking part in the investigation of the crash, which involved a FedEx Freight tractor pulling two trailers, said Shea Leordeanu, a spokeswoman for the Memphis, Tennessee-based shipping company. She declined to comment on details of the accident.
“That investigation is still ongoing and we are cooperating with the California Highway Patrol and the NTSB,” Leordeanu said in an interview.
FedEx is not aware of anything in the truck’s cargo that would have caused or contributed to the fire that followed the collision, she said.
“All of us at FedEx are deeply saddened by the tragic highway accident in California,” Leordeanu said. “Our hearts go out to all of those involved and their families. We are cooperating fully with the officials investigating the accident.”
Silverado Stages, a tour bus company based in San Luis Obispo, California, said in a statement on its website that it was helping authorities gather information.
Northbound lanes on I-5 near Orland remained closed at 7 a.m. local time, said California Highway Patrol dispatch supervisor Eddie Mitchell. Southbound lanes were open, she said.
Mitchell said CHP officials weren’t releasing additional information until a planned 10 a.m. news conference in Willows, California.
“The Humboldt State community sends our deepest condolences to all those involved in this tragic accident,” the university said in the statement on its website. “We are saddened beyond words.”