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