Apr 14, 2014 2:07 AM
The National Transportation Safety Board federal investigators say they haven't found any physical evidence that a FedEx truck was on fire before it slammed into a tour bus carrying more than 40 high school students, killing 10 people on Interstate-5 near Orland.
NTSB member Mark Rosekind said Sunday that investigators are not ruling out a pre-impact fire, but according to a fire expert there was no physical evidence of fire before the impact.
Investigators said they were looking into a driver's claim that the FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened out of control across a freeway median on I-5 in Glenn County.
Officials are also in the process of reviewing a cellphone video recorded by the Nissan Altima’s driver and a “dash cam” video that was inside a CHP vehicle.
NTSB is also looking into both drivers’ history and what they did in the last 72 hours, officials stated in Sunday’s press conference. The FedEx driver was traveling back from Weed after dropping off some freight and was traveling back to Sacramento.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the FedEx driver was 32-year-old Tim Evans of Elk Grove.
Investigators say Tala Salanoa, the bus driver attempted to avoid the crash. NTSB officials found 145 feet of brake marks caused by the bus before it collided with the tractor-trailer.
Officials will be conducting multiple tests to determine whether there were any distractions that played a role in the wreck.
Investigators say the second trailer was empty, and are looking to see if the first trailer was carrying any hazardous materials.
The “black-box” type recording device was recovered from the tour bus, that will tell investigator how fast the bus was going, the device on the FedEx truck was destroyed in the crash and fire. The NTSB will be inspecting the tractor-trailer’s transmission to determine what gear it was in at the time of the crash, which will give investigator an idea of how fast it was traveling when the head-on collision happened.
The tour bus was a 2014 model and was equipped with lap and shoulder belts.
Some of the victims were ejected from the bus, Rosekind said.
Investigators will continue their investigation for about five to 10 more days, but much of the investigation will shift to the Los Angeles area, Rosekind said. Officials will be interviewing the students who returned back from Humboldt State University.
10 people that died in the Orland bus crash have been identified as:
Southern California students: Marisa Serrato, Adrian Castro, Denise Gomez, Ismael Jimenez, and Jennifer Bonilla.
Three chaperones on the bus were also killed. They are HSU counselor Arthur Arzola, Michael Myvett, and his fiancée Mattison Haywood.
The NTSB is asking anyone who witnessed events leading up to or the crash itself to contact them with any information or video. The NTSB can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at 202-557-1537.