Answers Sought In California Bus Crash That Killed 10 Including 5 High School Students

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. One of the queries will determine whether seat belts would have reduced the number deaths and injuries.

CBS Sacramento screenshot of the bus accident in Orland, which took the lives of 10 people, including five students from Southern California.
CBS Sacramento screenshot of the bus accident in Orland, which took the lives of 10 people, including five students from Southern California.
by Penny Arévalo

Orland, California – Federal investigators are trying to determine what caused a FedEx truck to cross the median of an interstate and crash head on into a charter bus filled with high school students Thursday.

The fiery crash killed five students, three chaperones, the charter bus driver and the driver of the FedEx truck. The students were on their way from a southern California high school to Humboldt State University for a preview weekend.

The bus involved in the crash near left 175 feet of  pre-impact tire marks, including some indicative of evasive maneuvers to the right, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator said.

Investigators have recovered the electronic control module from the bus, but have yet to download its data and it was unclear if it will yield useful information, the NTSB's Mark Rosekind said at a news briefing in Red Bluff, north of the crash site on Interstate 5.

The electronic control module from the FedEx big rig, a 2007 Volvo that left the southbound lanes at a 10-degree angle and left no skid marks when it crossed the median, was not recoverable, Rosekind said.

Still, investigators will remove the rig's transmission and also examine its steering box to glean possible clues into what caused the crash, he said.

Blood samples have been taken from both drivers, Rosekind said.

The bus left Los Angeles with one driver at the wheel, but it stopped in Sacramento and a new driver took over, according to Rosekind.

Some of those aboard were ejected from the motor coach, which was a 2014 model equipped with three-point seat belt restraints, he said.

One of the questions investigators will seek to answer is if the restraints would have made a difference in terms of deaths and injuries suffered in the collision, Rosekind said.

He also said a Nissan Altima that was clipped by the FedEx truck before it hit the motorcoach had just passed the bus prior to the crash.

--City News Service

Heywood April 14, 2014 at 11:23 AM
John, medical emergencies (hear attacks, blown aortic aneurysm, etc) can happen suddenly and even right after a driver passes his DOT physical. Don't be so naïve.
Decaturette April 14, 2014 at 01:30 PM
I have always thought that school buses should have seat belts. It would make buses safer in many kinds of accidents and might assist in keeping kids seated during the ride. Plus it's good modelling for children. Some school buses do have seat belts. I have heard the following reasons that school buses are not required to have seat belts: - Adds to the purchase price of buses - Bus drivers would have to enforce buckling up - School buses account for a small proportion of motor vehicle injuries and deaths in children - Buses tend to drive more slowly and shorter distances than most other vehicles - Buses have tall padded seat backs as protection None of these reasons cut it with me. Given all the other things that schools have to pay for, bus seat belts should have a higher priority on the list.
John Chrusciel April 14, 2014 at 02:16 PM
John the reports stated the vehicle was on fire. This was before the crash. Maybe the driver saw his tractor on fire and had a massive heart attack? Who knows.
John Chrusciel April 14, 2014 at 02:21 PM
Decaturette back in the days before collapsible steering shafts it was a bad idea to wear a seatbelt because during a head on collision the steering shaft would act as a spear and run you through. I never wore a seat belt my old MGA or TR3. However, this is no longer a problem because of modern design and engineering. Some people will hem and haw about being t-boned at an intersection and the harm that a three point harness can do. I personally know many people who have had their lives saved by seat belts. I always wear mine. They should afford children the same opportunity to protect themselves. A 25 mile per hour head on collision with another vehicle travelling at 25 miles per hour is like a 50 mile per hour collision. So I do not buy the argument about shorter distances nor do I buy the article about lower driving speeds. What can is cost to have simple lap belts installed in a school bus? Are we that greedy?
Becky April 14, 2014 at 04:03 PM
I think the real reason they don't install them is that it would raise a whole other level of liability -- like that then they would have to keep the seatbelts in good working order, and maybe enforce that people wear them. Could I sue them because another passenger flew out of their seat and hit me. Etc, etc.


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