Preliminary NTSB Report Outlines Details of Fiery Orland Crash

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A preliminary report from federal investigators released Friday confirmed details about a fiery crash in Northern California that had killed 10 people, including five high school seniors from the Los Angeles area.


A bus involved in a deadly crash with a FedEx truck was loaded onto a truck at the scene on April 11, 2014, in Orland. (Credit: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

The April 10 crash in Orland, about 100 miles northwest of Sacramento, occurred when a southbound FedEx truck crossed into northbound lanes on the 5 Freeway and collided with a charter bus headed from L.A. to Humboldt State University in Arcata.

The 2007 Volvo truck had departed a FedEx facility in Sacramento at 10 a.m. that Thursday, then, at about 3:30 p.m., swapped two 28-foot trailers for two similar ones in Weeds, not far from the Oregon border, according to the report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

At about 5:40 p.m., the truck was traveling back to Sacramento in the right lane of the 5 Freeway when it moved to the left and entered a 58-foot grassy median. It then crashed through a line of oleander bushes and into the northbound side of the freeway, the report stated.

The truck hit the rear part of a 2013 Nissan Altima, which was in the right lane in front of a Sentra motorcoach operated by bus company Silverado Stages, Inc., according to the NTSB report.


Witness Bonnie Duran, whose car was hit by the FedEx truck before the big-rig crashed into a bus carrying 48 people, took this picture from the scene in Orland, Calif., on April 10, 2014. (Credit: Bonnie Duran)

As the Altima rotated counterclockwise and stopped off the east side of the freeway, the FedEx truck hit the bus, and then those two vehicles also departed the roadway to the east.

“A post-crash fire ensued,” the report stated. “The fire consumed the (FedEx truck) and partially burned the motorcoach.”

Ten people died, including the drivers of the truck and the bus, as a result of their injuries. The bus, carrying 43 students, also held three adult chaperones, all of whom died.

The Altima’s driver and passenger had minor injuries, according to the report.

The bus had made a planned stop in Sacramento, where a “replacement driver” took control of the motorcoach, the report stated.

The NTSB is investigating the crash with the intent of providing safety recommendations, if necessary, from the agency’s findings, authorities have said.

The California Highway Patrol is the primary agency investigating the cause of the crash. Last week, CHP officials reenacted the crash with replacement vehicles.

Officials from both the state and the federal agency have said it could be months before their final reports are issued.

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