Authorities announced Thursday evening that at least 10 people were killed and dozens more were injured after a FedEx semi-truck lost control and crashed into a charter bus carrying more than 40 prospective college students on Interstate 5 in Northern California.
According to The Washington Post, the charter bus was transporting high school students from the Los Angeles area who had been accepted to Humboldt State University for a visit of the campus, which is located in Arcata.
The 12-hour road trip included two scheduled stops – one in Bakersfield and another in Sacramento. As the charter bus approached the city of Orland – which is located approximately 90 miles north of Sacramento – authorities say a FedEx semi-truck crashed head-on into the bus.
Causation of Head-On Collision
The semi-truck was reportedly headed southbound in the opposite lanes that the charter bus was traveling in. Witnesses reported seeing the semi-truck cross a large grass median separating the two lanes of I-5 before crashing head-on into the bus.
“It was insane. The bus was engulfed in flames, smoke in and out of the front,” said 27-year-old Marc Smutny, who was working nearby when the crash occurred. “The bus looked like it took most of the hit. It was horrible.”
One official indicated that the incident also involved another vehicle – identified as a Nissan Altima – but did not elaborate any further on what that involvement might be.
In total, nine people from the bus – five students, three chaperones and the driver – and the driver of the FedEx truck were killed in the crash. There were at least 37 injuries resulting from this devastating crash, ranging from burns and lacerations to broken bones.
Investigators Seek Answers as Pressure Grows
Authorities have already begun a thorough investigation into all possible contributing factors to this crash, and the urgency of this investigation will continue to grow considering the severity of damage and number of victims.
“The victims were teenage kids. A lot of them were freaked out. They were shocked. They still couldn’t grasp what happened,” said Jason Wyman of the Orland Volunteer Fire Department. “You hear about it in the news, but you never seen anything like that.”
The bus had reportedly been chartered by Humboldt State University to bring the prospective students up to the campus for a visit.
It is still unclear what may have caused the FedEx truck to lose control and cross into the opposite lanes of the interstate. Authorities’ investigation will determine what role, if any, the Nissan Altima may have played in the crash.